The university issued a press release saying it would hold a press conference Saturday afternoon to introduce its new athletic director. But the release does not name Smith.
However, multiple reports in the Columbus area confirm that the choice is the 49-year-old Smith. According to The Columbus Dispatch, Smith will receive a compensation package worth between $500,000 and $600,000 a year. Geiger, in his 11th year as the AD, was making roughly $325,000.
The Dispatch reported that Smith flew to Columbus today and met with OSU President Karen Holbrook and trustees Tami Longaberger and Robert Duncan at Longaberger's home in Newark. The trustees had earlier convened a meeting at the Newark campus.
Smith is a 1973 graduate of Bedford (Ohio) Chanel High School. He then played defensive end at Notre Dame. He was a member of the 1973 national championship team there before graduating in 1977.
"You would be getting an athletic director who is a football guy," said Hod Rabino, publisher of DevilsDigest.com. "The athletic department here is keeping mum on (Smith's departure) right now."
Smith's full bio is listed below. But he served as an assistant coach at his alma mater for five years. After time spent in the private sector at IBM, he went into athletic administration at Eastern Michigan in 1983. He became the athletic director at EMU in 1985 before moving on to Iowa State in 1993 and Arizona State in 2000.
He is considered as one of the nation's most well respected ADs, serving on NCAA committees for football rules and infractions.
Some of his biggest accomplishments include a $12 million stadium renovation at EMU, an overhaul of facilities at Iowa State and a $30 million capital campaign at Arizona State. At ASU, he also worked to wipe out a budget deficit.
"Academically, things improved under his watch," Rabino said. "When he got here, there was a budget deficit of around $3 million. But with layoffs and cuts and some creative things, he got it under control. He did things like scheduling Nebraska in football in (an exempt game). The team got killed, but the school made $800,000. He did a lot of creative things to raise money and erase the deficit.
"Their attendance last year was the highest it's been in eight years. He did a lot of good things here."
Smith showed he was a man of action just five months into his new job in 2000, when he fired longtime football coach Bruce Snyder and replaced him with Boise State's Dirk Koetter.
Obviously, Smith would be coming to Ohio State to help clean up a number of messy situations. Both the football and men's basketball programs are under NCAA investigation after allegations of illegal extra benefits for athletes have been raised. Plus, several of the school's programs fell far short of the NCAA's new academic standards, meaning OSU could be in line to suffer scholarship losses without improvement.
Below is Smith's bio from the official ASU site:
Gene Smith was appointed as Arizona State University's 18th director of athletics on July 27, 2000. Smith arrived at ASU as no stranger to collegiate athletics with a wealth of experience as a Division IA athletic director with previous stints at Iowa State (1993-2000) and Eastern Michigan (1986-93).
Smith's credo? To create student-athlete success academically, athletically and socially.
In his first four years at Arizona State, Smith hit the ground running, starting his own legacy of success in Tempe. He has hired nationally regarded coaches in football, soccer, wrestling, women's golf, water polo and volleyball while directing each of ASU's 22-sports programs, many of which saw unprecedented competitive success the past three years. Smith also oversaw completion of a $30 million capital campaign, which in part funded the construction of the $19 million Ed and Nadine Carson Student-Athlete Center, completed in May, 2002. The state-of-the-art facility affords Arizona State one of the finest student-athlete centers in the country, including perhaps the premier weight room and sports rehabilitation area in the nation.
Smith, who was named the 2003 Division I West Region Athletics Director of the Year by NACDA, has created a winning environment, dedicated to building stronger programs and committed to providing student-athletes the opportunity to be successful academically, athletically and socially. Nearly 60 percent of the 480 Sun Devil student-athletes were Maroon & Gold Scholars in 2003-04, posting at least a one-semester grade-point average of 3.0 while more than 10 percent achieved a perfect 4.0 grade-point. The graduation rate hit a school record, improving 11 percentage points over the highest previous mark and 13 percent higher than the university average.
Smith has a long history of national leadership and service. Since arriving at ASU, Smith has been appointed to the NCAA Infractions Committee, the NCAA Football Rules Committee, the NCAA Administrative Review Committee and the BCS Athletic Director's Advisory Committee. Smith is a member of the Tempe Convention and Visitor's Bureau Board of Directors and the Maricopa County Sports Authority Board of Directors.
He also serves on the Fiesta Bowl Board in Tempe. Smith is currently vice president of the Pacific-10 Conference Executive Committee, chair of the Pac-10 Football officiating Committee and a member of the Pac-10 Selection, Athletics Directors' Revenue Sharing, Rose Bowl Management and Bowl (Ad Hoc) committees.
Smith's strong reputation among his peers was affirmed in June, 1994 when the Notre Dame graduate was named president of NACDA. In 1991, Smith was appointed to a four-year term on NACDA's 32-member executive committee. In 1992, he was elected third vice president of NACDA and was named to the Division 1-A Executive Committee. He was elected First Vice President of NACDA in 1993. Smith has also served on the NCAA President's Commission Liaison Committee, the NCAA Executive Committee, the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee and the NCAA Working Committee to Study Basketball Issues. He was appointed to the NCAA's Management Council in May of 1996 and continues to serve on that committee.
Prior to his arrival at Iowa State, Smith served as athletic director at Eastern Michigan University for seven years. Smith joined the EMU staff in 1983 as assistant athletic director for non-revenue sports. He was named interim executive athletic director in 1985 and was elevated to the position permanently on June 25, 1986.
Smith earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame in 1977. He earned three varsity football letters as a defensive end at Notre Dame and was a member of the Associated Press 1973 national championship team.
Smith also served as an assistant football coach at Notre Dame from 1977-81, helping to guide the squad to its 1977 undisputed national championship. He then spent two years as a marketing representative for IBM prior to joining the Eastern Michigan staff in April 1983.
Gene and his wife, Sheila, have four children: Matt, Nicole, Lindsey, and Summer, and two grandchildren: Marshall and Steele. Sheila, a 1976 Canadian Olympian in basketball, holds a doctorate in Higher Education Administration and currently serves as Senior Vice President for the ASU Foundation, Deputy Vice President for Development and Special Advisor to the ASU President.