NACDA and Fiesta Bowl Select Ohio State as Winner of 2022 Community Service Award – Ohio State Buckeyes


LA VEGAS (June 27, 2022) The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the party bowl announcement The Ohio State University (OSU) as the recipient of the 2022 Community Service Award today at the 2022 NACDA and Affiliates Convention. Ohio State received the award for its Buckeyes Care and LiFEsports initiatives.

The Community Service Award will be officially presented to Ohio State on Saturday, September 24 during their Big Ten football game against Wisconsin at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

“We are extremely honored to be the 2021-22 recipient of the NACDA Community Service Award,” said Gene Smith, Senior Vice President and Endowed Sports Director of the Wolfe Foundation. “Ohio State student-athletes, coaching staffs and our pillar partners are truly making an impact in Central Ohio and beyond, and I want to thank the NACDA and the Fiesta Bowl for recognizing our commitment and for presenting us with this important award.”

Now in its sixth year, the Fiesta Bowl Community Service Award was designed to recognize NACDA member institutions in Division I honoring outstanding athletic departments that make volunteerism and community service a way of life. A five-person committee comprised of athletic directors from across the country and representatives from the Fiesta Bowl and NACDA helped select Ohio State as this year’s award winner. The OSU Athletics Department will receive a Fiesta Bowl trophy for permanent display on campus.

“Ohio State’s LiFEsports Camps and Buckeyes Care programs both meet direct community needs and are directly aligned with the Fiesta Bowl pillars of serving youth, sports and education,” said the Chairman of the Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors. Randal Norton. “We know that Gene Smith is committed to positive youth development, fostering a caring community and instilling an inclusive culture that empowers student-athletes to give back to the community and help those in need.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Fiesta Bowl and recognize Past NACDA President Gene Smith, his hardworking staff and Ohio State student-athletes with this year’s Community Service Award. “said the NACDA chief executive. Bob Vecchione. “Ohio State is NACDA’s neighbor to the south, and we know firsthand that the Buckeyes are synonymous with leadership, success and contributing to their community that supports them locally and regionally. The positive impact of these programs is a great example for the holistic development of student-athletes across the country.

The four pillars of the Buckeyes Care program are fitness, wellness, education and public service. Through Buckeyes Care, the department has been able to impact all four pillars through its various programs. Programs include The 2nd and 7 Foundation which promotes reading by providing free books and positive role models for children and the Mid-Ohio Food Collective which is a food bank that covers 20 counties, 10,000 square miles and serves 170,000 meals each day.

The main community initiative is the LiFEsports Initiative. From 1968 to 2008, Ohio State Athletics supported the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) which, at its peak, operated at 200 colleges and universities across the country. When federal funding was cut for NYSP in 2007, the Ohio State Department of Athletics decided to fund the camp, rename the program, identify college partners, and find support from community organizations in central Ohio.

Thanks to LiFEsports, Ohio State was one of the few schools to continue the NYSP program. Today, LiFEsports is not just one camp, but six camps operating in the city of Columbus. This work is done in partnership between Ohio State Athletics, College of Social Work, Extension and the Department of Recreational Sports. LiFEsports has responded to the ever-changing needs of youth in the Ohio State community and the field of sports-based positive youth development. The mission of LiFEsports is “to prepare young people for life and leadership through sport”.

The program consists of three pillars. The first pillar, awareness, is at the heart of LiFEsports which offers positive youth development programs based on quality sport. The second pillar is teaching and learning that prepares and trains the sport-based positive youth development workforce of tomorrow. The third pillar, which separates Ohio State from other initiatives, is research. This allows OSU to use data to improve programming, demonstrate success, and become the national leader in youth impact through sport.

About the Fiesta Bowl: The vision of the Fiesta Bowl is to be a world-class community organization that executes innovative experiences, drives economic growth and champions charitable causes, inspiring pride in all Arizonans. As a non-profit organization, it believes in the importance of community outreach and service. Through charitable donations, the organization strives to improve Arizona nonprofit organizations that contribute to the success of communities through youth, sports, and education. Since 1971, the Fiesta Bowl has strived to grow its footprint throughout the state and work to benefit Arizonans year-round, during and outside of bowl season. For more information on its local impact and how to get involved, visit

About NACDA: NACDA, now in its 56th year, is the professional and educational association of more than 22,000 collegiate athletic administrators at more than 2,200 institutions across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. More than 6,500 athletic administrators attend NACDA & Affiliates Convention Week each year. In addition, NACDA operates 17 professional associations and four foundations. For more information about NACDA, visit NACDA: Now in its 57th year, NACDA is the professional and educational association of more than 22,000 collegiate athletic administrators at more than 2,200 institutions across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. NACDA operates 17 professional associations and four foundations. In addition to virtual programmingNACDA hosts five major professional development events in person annually. The NACDA & Affiliates Convention is the nation’s largest gathering of collegiate athletic administrators. For more information, visit


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