Touring the Woody Hayes Athletic Center

As an Ohio State sports junkie, I jumped at the opportunity to take “The Business of College Sports,” a course that provides a business-focused analysis of intercollegiate athletics, including an in-depth look at the OSU athletic program.  The course is a combined class of Sports Management and MBA students.  I am actually neither a Sports Management nor MBA student, but the flexibility of the MAcc program permits us to take any elective MBA course, which is a unique feature of the program.

The course is structured as follows: we hear from a different guest speaker within the Ohio State Athletic Department every day, with each of them discussing a different topic.  For instance, the Head Athletic Director, Gene Smith, was the first speaker and he presented us with the mission, values, and organizational structure of the athletic department.  He also spoke on current NCAA issues such as conference realignment and the BCS.  We also got to see the Athletic Department’s budget and the contract of head football coach, Urban Meyer.

Another feature of the class is that we have the opportunity to tour a few of the athletic facilities on campus.  Last Thursday, we were given a tour of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, which is an indoor training complex for several of Ohio State’s varsity sports.  We toured the football portion of the complex, which was essentially an Ohio State football museum.  I felt like a kid in a candy shop as we got to see several Big Ten Championship trophies, all seven Heisman Trophies, and the crystal ball-looking National Championship trophy from the 2002 season.   We walked down a long hallway of Ohio State memorabilia with sections designated for legendary coaches (Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, and Jim Tressel), All-Americans, Academic All-Americans, and NFL players.

There was a tour guide who provided us with various facts about the program throughout the tour.  The tour guide explained that, according to ESPN, Ohio State is the most-watched college football team in the country.  He also highlighted that College Gameday, the ESPN college football preview show, has visited Ohio State’s campus more than any other school in the nation.

During the tour, I also learned about former Buckeye football players who not only played in the NFL, but made a significant impact on society as well.  For instance, I learned that Max M. Fisher (the benefactor of the business school) was in fact a football player and after graduating, grew an oil business into what we eventually become Marathon Oil.  I also learned that a former football player was instrumental in developing the computer animation for the comedy film, Toy Story.

Lastly, I saw the team meeting room, the indoor practice field, the outdoor practice fields, the massive weight room, and the state-of-the art training room.  To conclude, it was a dream come true to get this inside look at the Ohio State football program.   I was in awe as I toured the remarkable facility while also learning more about the history of the storied program.