Why Ohio State Doesn’t Have a “Defensive Coordinator”

One week ago today, Michigan’s Regents approved a $10 million endowment, which resulted in Brady Hoke’s job title being changed.

He’s now the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.

Most of the articles on the subject addressed the fact that this is not at all uncommon.

Some stories referenced similar arrangements at Stanford, Vanderbilt, Boston College and Northwestern. Others addressed the fact that Michigan State is currently seeking a $5 million endowment for their football coach.

It turns out that another example exists at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes have an endowment for the university’s wrestling coach, and since 2012, the OSU football staff has included The Wandell Family Defensive Coordinator.

What is an endowment? At Ohio State, it’s an at least $50,000 donation that the school invests and then uses the interest on that investment for a purpose designated by the donor. In the case of the Wandell family, that is paying the salary of the defensive coordinator.

“It’s about connecting the donors to the reason they gave,” says Director of Development Operations Kate Riffee.

And it’s not just coaches and athletic department staffers that can be the beneficiary of an endowment. Specific aspects of the athletics department budget, such as travel spending or mentoring  programs, can be endowed. So can Ohio State athletes…up to a point.

Designating a specific athlete would be the sort of quid pro quo that would run afoul of both NCAA rules and IRS laws regarding donations.

Former Buckeye quarterback Mike Tomczak, for instance, cannot specify that his endowment goes to Braxton Miller. He can (and has) set aside money for an OSU signal caller. Then the coaches decide if Miller, Cardale Jones, JT Barrett, or Stephen Collier will be the recipient.

All told, Ohio State has almost 300 endowments, and they are always happy to add to that number. However the focus now, says Riffee, is on capital improvements (ie. buildings) and efforts such as The Buckeye Club.


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