The Fiesta Bowl Organization has added Gene Smith, longtime Ohio State and former Arizona State athletics chief to its organization’s board of directors.
As a nonprofit organization, the Fiesta Bowl is administered by the Board of Directors, which provides management oversight, strategic direction and governance for the organization, according to a press release.
“Gene Smith has been a ‘go-to’ person in intercollegiate athletics for years, given his experience, expertise and forward-thinking mindset,” said Patrick Barkley, Chair of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors, in the release.
“As someone who has lived in Arizona and has great affection for our state, Gene is also dedicated to our year-round community impact.”
Now in his 17th year leading the athletics department at Ohio State, Smith has been a key player in some of college athletics’ biggest initiatives, the release said.
He co-chaired the NCAA’s Federal State Legislative Working Group that guided the NCAA on name, image and likeness, served on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, was a member of the NCAA’s Management Council, the Committee on Infractions, the Executive Committee, the Football Rules Committee and the President’s Commission Liaison Committee.
“During my tenure at Ohio State we have played in five Fiesta Bowl games, and our student-athletes, coaches, families and fans have experienced first-hand the incredible care and hospitality extended to bowl participants. Each game has been a quintessential bowl experience for us all,” stated Smith in the release.
“What we love about the Fiesta Bowl is that its impact extends far beyond us, as its community service and national – and even international – reach is phenomenal. I am very honored to help enhance the Fiesta Bowl’s position at the top of the game alongside an incredibly talented and dedicated group of community leaders and volunteers.”
Having served as the first Black president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and past president of the Division I-A Athletics Directors Association, Smith was director of athletics at Arizona State from 2000-05, led the Iowa State athletics program for seven years and oversaw athletics at Eastern Michigan from 1986-93.
He played football as an undergraduate at Notre Dame, where he was a defensive end on the 1973 national championship team and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Smith joined the coaching staff after graduation, helping the Irish to the 1977 national championship and stayed at Notre Dame until 1981, when he left for IBM in a marketing position, the release added.
Two years later, he returned to collegiate athletics as assistant athletics director at Eastern Michigan before climbing the ranks as one of the most influential athletics administrators nationwide, the release added.