The Ohio State University athletic department announced this week details of its new Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute, designed to enhance student-athletes' professional development.
The institute, named in honor of current OSU athletic director Gene Smith, "will provide leadership, character and career development for the over 1,000 student-athletes at Ohio State in order to best prepare them for their post-graduation ambitions," the announcement said.
As reported by The Columbus Dispatch, the institute will focus on three pillars: “real life” will focus on career readiness and workforce preparation; “live life” will address social awareness and educating student-athletes on relevant topics involving a team or the community, such as the power of a first impression, fine dining etiquette or financial literacy; and the “leadership” pillar will train coaches and student-athletes to develop individual leadership styles, learning from one another and other experts in the field.
The leadership pillar includes the Lead Like a Buckeye program headed by Urban Meyer, former head football coach and current assistant athletic director, for captains and rising leaders on each of Ohio State’s 36 varsity teams, the announcement said.
Several related initiatives are already in place at Ohio State, but will be centralized within the institute. "Already considered an industry leader, Ohio State’s current programming includes internships at the university and in the community; the highly successful Wolstein Leadership Academy; and the Huntington Bank sponsored Bucks Go Pro program. The Eugene D. Smith Leadership Institute will align, grow and enhance all of these programs to provide the best, most comprehensive, education and experience in the country to fully prepare student-athletes for life after sport," according to the announcement.
"We are excited to share with you a new initiative that we are so proud to have the opportunity to lead," associate athletic director Carey Fagan, who will lead implementation of the new center, said in a news release. "Thanks to the unbelievable generosity of donors who are passionate about what we do, we have launched this comprehensive program for student-athletes to best prepare them for careers and life after graduation."