Nationwide On Ohio State's Side

OSU athletic director Gene Smith and officials from Nationwide Insurance joined today to announce a 10-year, multi-million sponsorship deal. The deal involves sponsorship of all 36 varsity sports, signage in OSU sporting venues and also new uniforms and a trip to Penn State for the OSU marching band.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith joined officials from Nationwide Insurance in announcing a 10-year, multi-million sponsorship of all 36 varsity sports as well as the marching band.

The announcement was made during a press conference held this morning in the rotunda on the north side of Ohio Stadium.

"The partnership we have with Nationwide is a win-win partnership," Smith said. "Any time we create corporate sponsorships, we are looking at creating a situation where we both share the same values and the same missions. We certainly have that with Nationwide Insurance. They are a great partner.

Athletic Director Gene Smith

"They are an organization that allows us to do what we're here to do. First and foremost, that's to allow these people to have the best experience they can and do everything we can to entertain our fans and customers that come to the ‘Shoe and all of our arenas."

The comprehensive sponsorship deal includes signage for Nationwide in both Ohio Stadium and the Schottenstein Center. Plus, it will include sponsorship of the Block "O" student spirit group, the Buckeye Championship Sports Tour, the Scarlet and Gray spring football game and the pregame Skull Sessions performed by the marching band at St. John Arena.

Nationwide's logo will also appear on ticketbacks and on all schedule cards and posters.

This deal continues nearly six decades of support Nationwide has provided to Ohio State. These include contributions in areas ranging from agriculture, health, business, diversity and now athletics.

"They have impacted a number of areas on our campus," Smith said. "From the bottom of our heart, we thank you for all of the things you've done for the College of Business and other areas on our campus."

Amy Shore, Nationwide's regional vice president for Ohio and West Virginia, represented the company.

"Today we build on our commitment by supporting OSU athletics across all varsity sports, from football to soccer and on to women's hockey," Shore said. "We hope that our support makes an impact. We feel it is fitting that the home company sponsors the home team.

"We are looking forward to an exciting 10 years of seeing the Nationwide white towels waving in the Horseshoe as 100,000 fans cheer on their Buckeyes."

The deal will provide marketing money for OSU to publicize its Olympic sports programs. OSU women's hockey coach Jackie Barto, whose program was added just six years ago, sees the benefit in getting the word out there about her program.

"Being the newest sport added here at Ohio State, we believe this helps with our exposure in the market," Barto said. "On behalf of all the coaches, I would like to thank Nationwide for stepping up and supporting over 1,000 student-athletes."

OSU marching band director Jon Woods announced that the deal with Nationwide will allow the band to purchase new uniforms. The deal will also help underwrite the cost of sending the band to the critical Big Ten road night football game at Penn State on Oct. 8.

"The funds from Nationwide have allowed us to move forward and purchase a new set of replacement uniforms for the marching band," Woods said. "The current uniforms that we have are 20 years old and starting show some signs of wear and tear.

Jon Woods

"This year, when Buckeye fans travel to Penn State, they'll be able to walk into that stadium and see the Ohio State marching band there. We will know that Nationwide is on our side."

In terms of signage, Nationwide will join OSU's other sign sponsors on the north and south end scoreboards at Ohio Stadium.

David Brown, OSU's assistant athletic director for marketing, said this deal with Nationwide came about after another insurance company, State Farm, failed to renew its signage deal.

"We came back to (State Farm) with a proposal to renew, but they chose to go in a different direction," Brown said.

The OSU Marching Band will get new uniforms

Nationwide jumped into the void, sponsoring signage at the Schottenstein Center last year and now stepping forward for the comprehensive deal this year.

"Nationwide was very anxious to get involved with us," Brown said. "We are excited to get a partner like Nationwide. They activate. They take the sponsorship and they take it a step farther. When it comes time to renew and you have a partner who activates, they see the value in the partnership."

There was concern in some quarters that today's announcement included naming rights for Ohio Stadium. But Smith and Shore each said that was never considered.

"Absolutely not," Shore said. "Why would we want to mess with the tradition of the ‘Shoe?"

Amy Shore

Neither party revealed the exact value of the sponsorship, although Shore did say it "is closer to $1 million than $10 million."

Based in Columbus, Nationwide is one of the largest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the world with more than $157 billion in assets. The company ranks 99th on Fortune magazine's top 100 list.

Nationwide will celebrate its new sponsorship with OSU tonight with a special illuminated message on its Plaza One building at One Nationwide Plaza downtown. The west side will show a special message.

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