Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith issued a statement Sunday on the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, and the involvement of Buckeye athletes. You can read it below in its entirety.
Racism has been declared a public health crisis; hate has no place in civil society.
Over the past decade, Buckeye student-athletes have proactively engaged in issues that have resulted in a shift in our departmental culture; issues that were manifest at the same time in the larger society and reflected in the actions of the student-athletes.
In recent years, several young men in the sport of football made the decision to publicly discuss their personal mental health challenges as a way to help demystify the larger societal conversation about mental health.
Concurrently, student-athletes in the sport of men’s hockey asked the department to support the NHL’s initiative entitled: If you can play, you can play. This effort advocated for support for student-athletes of all sexual orientations.
Student-athletes from many departmental teams have engaged in outreach efforts to support young people in underserved parts of the community. This service has become embedded as part of the departmental culture and is often carried into the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and WNBA by Buckeyes in their professional sport careers.
All of this activity is initiated and lead by student-athletes. When student-athletes and/or teams come to us with issues with which they want to engage, we provide them resources and support.
Now, our student-athletes have expressed a desire to engage in the Black Lives Matter movement that has grown from Minneapolis, across the nation, and around the world.
The department will continue to support our student-athletes as they participate in activities to eradicate hate and racism in our society. Recently, student-athletes have been active on social media platforms denouncing racism, participating in attention and awareness videos promoting Black Lives Matter, holding peaceful demonstrations (Kneel for Nine) and participating in video calls with their teammates and others.
The Ohio State Department of Athletics supports the Black Lives Matter movement. We will continue to support our student-athletes as they participate in driving positive change in America so that every person is respected regardless of the color of their skin.