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Convention Preview: Future of Athletics Development

March 1, 2010


Future of Athletics Development

This year’s NAADD Convention will feature a unique panel of a husband and wife team for the “Future of Athletics Development” general session. NACDA Past President Gene Smith, director of athletics at The Ohio State University and NAADD Past President Sheila Smith, associate vice president for principal gifts at The Ohio State University, will share their views on where athletics development is headed in the future.

Marija Pientka, associate athletics director at the University of Wisconsin, was excited to hear about that announcement after seeing them in person at the Big Ten Conference Meetings.

“Both Gene and Shelia excel in their chosen fields, and they both do an outstanding job of sharing their knowledge and ‘lessons learned’ in a fun and engaging, yet very thorough manner. This is not a session you want to miss!” says Pientka.

“The Future of Athletics Development” has been one of the most well attended sessions in the past. Year after year, NAADD members consistently rank it as one of the best events at the Convention. This year, the Executive Committee has kicked it up a notch as attendees will hear how the Smiths have worked together to raise millions of dollars for The Ohio State University and Buckeye athletics.

“Fundraising is critical in today’s business model within athletics departments. Great organizations are able to be agile and innovative with their development planning and solicitations,” commented Gene Smith.

About Gene Smith: Gene is currently in his fifth year at The Ohio State University after previously serving as the director of athletics at Arizona State University, Iowa State University and Eastern Michigan. At Ohio State, Smith oversees one of the nation's largest and most successful college athletics programs. The Buckeyes have 36 fully-funded varsity sports and more than 1,000 student-athletes. The department of athletics is completely self supporting and receives no university funds, tax dollars or student fees. In the fiscal year 2008-09, the department transferred nearly $26 million in assessments to the university, including more than $13 million in grant-in-aid reimbursement. Under Smith's leadership, The Ohio State department of athletics was honored in the spring of 2008 with the Diversity in Athletics Award in the category of Overall Excellence in Diversity. Smith accepted the honor at the 43rd annual NACDA Convention in Dallas. Shortly after, Ohio State was honored as a department for its dedication to diversity, and Smith was individually recognized for his contribution to the sport of football.

Smith has an exemplary record of national leadership and service. In 2007, he served as president of the Division 1-A Athletic Directors Association. He is entering his third year on the prestigious NCAA Men's Basketball Committee and was appointed chair of the committee for the 2010-11 academic year, with his term as chair beginning Sept. 1, 2010. Smith was recently named to the newly created Basketball Academic Enhancement Group, a 27-member panel charged with developing strategies to enhance academic performance and graduation rates in Division I men's basketball.

He also has served on the NCAA Management Council, the NCAA Committee on Infractions, the NCAA Executive Committee, the NCAA Football Rules Committee, the President's Commission Liaison Committee, the NCAA Baseball Academic Enhancement Task Force, and the National Football Foundation Honors Court, among others.

About Shelia Smith: Sheila Smith currently serves The Ohio State University as the associate vice president for principal gifts. Previously, she was senior vice president of the Arizona State University Foundation and the deputy vice president for development and special adviser to the Arizona State University president.

Sheila brings a unique perspective as a Past President of NAADD who knows and works for central development.  In anticipation of the open forum, she stated:

“The current environment of economic uncertainty poses special challenges for fundraisers. Now is the time to stay close to your prospects and donors.”