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 recognize those who came before us, creating inspiration and opportunity for others, often in the face of adversity. It is on their shoulders that we celebrate an inclusive department 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 them 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.

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A year before Jesse Owens won Gold in Berlin, he set three world records and tied a fourth at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor for @OhioStAthletics.

It was dubbed "The Greatest 45 Minutes in Sports".

Owens is a member of the #B1Gimpact Pioneers Class of 2021: pic.twitter.com/7ukyk7VT1X

— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 18, 2021

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.

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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.

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Buckeye Inclusion

The athletics department supports The Ohio State University mission by providing quality programs that facilitate inclusive and shared experiences of all those participating, engaging and assisting in athletics programs.

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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.

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Regina Oliver

A former women’s lacrosse standout at The Ohio State University, Regina Oliver was selected to the 2009 Federation of International Lacrosse World Cup Team, which had been tasked with restoring gold to America after enduring a four-year Australian reign. In June 2009, Oliver aided Team USA to its sixth World Cup title on the strength of an 8-7 victory over Australia in the gold medal game.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About Our Student Groups


Redefining Athletic Standards (R.A.S.) aims to enhance the knowledge and experiences of Black male athletes at Ohio State by creating a safe space come together and speak with no judgement.


Founded in Fall 2017, SHEROS provides a safe space where black female student-athletes where they can learn and develop the essential skills that will help us lead successful lives in the future.

Buckeyes for Equality.

In honor of #BlackHistoryMonth #GoBuckeyes pic.twitter.com/fMFyjpy49E

— Ohio State Men's LAX (@OhioStateMLAX) February 19, 2021

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.

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Mamie Rallins

Mamie Rallins, a two-time Olympic hurdler, helped start the women’s track and field and cross country programs at Ohio State in 1976. The first African-American woman to ever coach at Ohio State, she coached 60 Big Ten champions, 24 All Americans, nine Olympic trial qualifiers and one Olympian during an 18-year career.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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In celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth, @ChanningChasten reflects on who throughout history has been inspirational to his journey.  #GoBucks | #BuckeyesLead pic.twitter.com/o9uttC7BGP

— The Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute (@EDSLInstitute) February 10, 2021

“Because of Them, We Can.”

Alexa Webb shares what Black History Month means to her, as we amplify the voices of our Black and Brown faculty and staff to honor the many contributions of Black/African American people to U.S. history. ✨🖤🌰#BlackHistoryMonth   | #GoBuckeyes pic.twitter.com/GJudK7Tsnd

— SASSO (@SASSO_OSU) February 11, 2021

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.

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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.

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Black History Month T-Shirts

Join us in recognizing Black History Month