Ohio State AD Gene Smith: USC, UCLA schools that can carry weight for Big Ten

The Big Ten Conference’s decision to admit USC and UCLA to the conference in two years has many implications.

Gene Smith was asked Friday morning specifically why the move is good for Ohio State, where he has been the director of athletics for nearly two decades.

“Great question. For Ohio State, it frankly provides two other schools in an unbelievable market that can frankly carry some weight,” Smith said at a joint news conference he held with OSU president Kristina Johnson. “At the end of the day, Ohio State over the years is a program that for the Big Ten has been at the top of the pyramid and carries a significant amount of weight in the value of the Big Ten.

“Now we have two others that can contribute to that weight, and we’re really excited about that. So this is no disparagement to any other school — it’s just reality. You asked specifically about how this impacts Ohio State.”

Johnson, who attended Stanford and previously worked at Colorado among other places, said the academic impact should be significant for the Big Ten and the region Ohio State calls home as it tries to position itself for developing the workforce of the future.

“So I want to step back for a minute,” she said at the end of the press conference. “Just think about where the future of the country is going. We know a lot about Intel investing in central Ohio, in the ‘Silicon Heartland.’ It is really important for the future of the country that the Midwest step up and continue to be an innovative engine.

“And when you think about these universities that are in the Big Ten, this is going to help strengthen the connections to the West Coast and to the East Coast. And I think that this is our time in the Midwest, to continue to build on that excellence and educate students that are going to be required for the future of the country, especially with Intel and the semiconductor industry is going to re-shore and they’re going to re-shore here in Ohio.”

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