Ohio State AD thought about making sports programs independent?

On the same day Ohio State management hosted USC and UCLA in the Big Ten conference, the university’s athletic director, Gene Smith, made an interesting revelation.

Smith admits that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he considered leaving the Big Ten and making Ohio State independent. And to counter the millions that would likely have been lost, he also considered OSU getting its own television rights deal.

“That’s the only time I’ve spoken to the boss about ‘maybe we’ll go independent,'” Smith said, via “Emotions drove me more than my rational thought.”

Although Smith and Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson discussed the move, Smith says the thought was fleeting. It only lasted ‘seconds’ after his wife, Sheila, talked him out of it.

“We’re a place where schools want to be,” Smith said. “Bringing them in makes the Big Ten stronger for all the reasons we’ve talked about.

“There’s no reason, in my opinion, for (Michigan) or us or Wisconsin or anybody to think about leaving something really strong. We just made it stronger.

After staying put, Smith and the Ohio State Buckeyes will enter the 2022 season as Big Ten betting favorites.