Cleveland, OhioNational Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Past President and leader of the largest collegiate athletics department in the country, the Ohio State University Director of Athletics Gene Smith will be honored with the 2009 Distinguished American Award at the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the National Football Foundation’s 21st Annual Scholar-Athlete Awards Banquet on Monday, May 11 at LaCentre in Westlake.


Smith, a graduate of St. Peter Chanel High School, was a member of the University of Notre Dame’s 1973 national championship football team and served as an assistant football coach at his alma mater after graduating in 1977. In 1983, Smith began his athletics administration career as assistant athletics director at Eastern Michigan. In 1985, he was named interim athletics director before coming the permanent AD a year later. Since then, Smith has been an athletics director at Iowa State, Arizona State, and currently at OhioState.


He is the first African-American to hold this position for the Buckeyes and was NACDA’s first African-American president in 1994. In 2007, he served as president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association and is in his third year on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee. Smith serves on various national committees and was honored by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the “50 Most Powerful African-Americans in Sports.” Smith also serves on the John McLendon Scholarship Ad Hoc Steering Committee of the Division I-A Athletics Directors.


Ohio State Head Football Coach Jim Tressel will again be on hand to present the OhioCollege Coach-of-the-Year Award, named in honor of his father, Lee.


Individual tickets for the Banquet are $50 and tables of 10 are $500.  For more information on the National Football Foundation and if you are interested in purchasing tickets to the event, please call Mike Ott or Julie Work at 440-892-4000.