Celebrating Black History Month

The Ohio State department of athletics joins with the rest of the country to honor its past and present African-American student-athletes, coaches and staff members throughout each year and during Black History Month in February.

A message from Gene Smith

We take this opportunity to recognize those who came before us, creating both inspiration and opportunity for others, often in the face of adversity. It is on their shoulders that today we celebrate an inclusive department that is dedicated to the ideal of equal opportunity for all our student-athletes and coaches, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. We strive to coach, train and compete in an environment that motivates and supports all our student-athletes as they pursue their dreams.

Sr VP & Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director


Jesse Owens

From setting four world records in one day to winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games, the native of Cleveland’s impact still transcends the realm of sports today. Following his athletics endeavors, Owens worked to promote the ascension of the modern Olympic games and was a volunteer advocate for children.

Learn more

Bill Willis

The first African-American All-American in Ohio State athletics history, the native of Columbus was a member of the 1942 Football National Championship team and played both offense and defense. He later went on to became a member of both the college football and pro football halls of fame.

learn more

Stephanie Hightower

Ohio State’s first female track and field Olympian, Hightower qualified for the 1980 games (U.S. boycott) in the 100-meter hurdles. In all, she was a four-time U.S. champ in the event. Following her track career, Hightower has held numerous leadership roles including USA Track and Field President from 2008-2016.

Learn more

BTN Roundtable

Ohio State fencing head coach Donald Anthony, Jr. joined panel discussion

Karen Dennis

A 2018 inductee into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame, Dennis has continued her storied career as a competitor and coach for the last 15 seasons at Ohio State, serving as the women’s team head coach before taking over both programs in 2016. Since then, she has become the first woman to lead a men’s team to a B1G title in conference history.

Learn more

Nikita Lowry Dawkins

An All-American forward who led the Big Ten in scoring in 1988 and ’89, Lowry Dawkins has since spent her post-playing career calling the shots from the sidelines in a 26-year run as an head and assistant coach at the collegiate level. In addition to coaching at her Alma Mater, Lowry Dawkins has made stops at Michigan, Old Dominion, VCU and is currently in her second stint at the staff at Texas Tech.

Learn more

Archie Griffin

The only two-time Heisman Trophy winner in college football history, Archie Griffin helped lead Ohio State to Big Ten titles and trips to the Rose Bowl each season from 1972-75. Following his football career, Griffin became an administrator in the department of athletics at Ohio State before becoming the OSU Alumni Association President.

Learn more

Malcolm Jenkins

The 2008 Thorpe Award winner as best defensive back in college football, Jenkins helped Ohio State to four straight B1G titles and back-to-back berths in the national championship game. He completed his 11th season in the NFL with Philadelphia, winning his second Super Bowl ring in 2017 (2009 as a Saint). Off the field, he makes his impact running the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation, which is committed to youth development in under-served communities.

Learn more

Cameron Heyward

An All-Big Ten standout at defensive tackle for the Buckeyes, Heyward has gone on to excel at a Pro Bowl level for Pittsburgh Steelers helping the Steelers to numerous National Football League playoffs berths. In Pittsburgh, Heyward and his wife, Allie, have established the Heyward House Foundation, which is dedicated to bettering the lives of children in the community.

Learn more

Cleo Vaughn

Cleo Vaughn was the first African-American player to play varsity and letterwinner for the Ohio State men’s basketball team. Vaughn would be described as at least a four-star recruit and was a priority recruit for Ohio State and several other schools, having played three sports.

Learn more

Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall was the first African American golfer at Ohio State, serving as co-captain his junior and senior years before winning the Big Ten championship by 11 strokes. In addition to his course play, Hall served as an inspiration for many as a deaf student-athlete.

Learn more

Nichelle Prince

Nichelle Prince, an Ajax, Ontario, native, and 2016 second team All-Big Ten pick, finished third on the team with five goals while ranking second with five assists and 15 points after missing the first two matches of the season while earning a bronze medal representing Canada at the Olympics. She currently plays for the NWSL’s Houston Dash.

Learn more

Alicia Herron

Alicia Herron completed her Ohio State career as the record holder in career runs scored (168), second in home runs (49) and RBI (176), third in hits (226), fourth in triples (11) and doubles (40) and fifth in walks (113) and batting average (.367). The four-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete also received the Big Ten Medal of Honor.

Learn more

Butch Reynolds

Butch Reynolds was one of the most decorated track athletes to come through Ohio State. The 400m dash time of 44.10 he ran at the 1987 Jesse Owens Track & Field Classic is the second-fastest time ever by a collegiate athlete. The USA Track & Field Hall of Famer also claimed titles at numerous championships during his time as an athlete including the 1993 World indoor title; 1998 Olympic 400m silver and 4x400m gold; three World Outdoor 4x400m gold medals (1987, ’93 and ’95); two World Outdoor 400m silvers (’93 and ’95) and the 1987 World Outdoor 400m bronze medal.

Learn more

Shawn Springs

In 1996, Shawn Springs was one of the top cornerbacks in college football and the dominant defensive player in the Big Ten – despite not recording an interception. The 1996 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year was named to the first-team Walter Camp, Football Coaches, Sporting News and Football News All-America teams. Springs finished his career as a two-time All-Big Ten selection. The Seattle Seahawks selected him with the third overall selection in the 1997 NFL Draft.

Learn more

Clark Kellogg

From 1979 to 1982, Kellogg played for Ohio State, where he earned All-Big Ten Conference and Most Valuable Player honors. In 1982, Kellogg declared for the NBA draft after his junior year of college and was a first round draft pick (8th overall) of the Indiana Pacers. In June 2010, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland appointed Kellogg to the university’s board of trustees. Today, fans enjoy Kellogg as college basketball analyst for CBS.

Learn more

Alex Shumate - OSU board of trustee

Shumate’s passion for The Ohio State University cannot be measured. His service to OSU as a trustee for 23 years embodies his remarkable commitment. The advancement of the entire institution under his tenure is well documented – and legendary.  One constant along this magnificent journey has been Shumate’s leadership – he is modest and willful, humble and fearless. He is optimistic and ambitious not for himself, but for Ohio State.  We are tremendously grateful for his once-in-a-lifetime impact.