(From Ohio State University)
Ohio State President Walter “Ted” Carter Jr. today announced that Ross Bjork will become the university’s next senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation-Eugene Smith Endowed Athletics Director, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. Bjork, who has more than 30 years of experience in intercollegiate athletics, will begin his tenure as athletics director at Ohio State on July 1, 2024.
A former student-athlete, Bjork’s career in athletics administration has consistently focused on competitive success, advances in the student-athlete experience and academic excellence.
“Few athletics directors have established such an impressive and strong record of success in athletics, in the classroom and throughout the community,” Carter said. “The bar is incredibly high at Ohio State, and we have found in Ross a highly intelligent and effective leader – not to mention a fierce competitor.”
Bjork currently serves as director of athletics at Texas A&M University, overseeing more than 600 student-athletes competing at the Division I level in 20 varsity sports.
During his tenure, the school has set new records in overall grade point average, NCAA Graduate Success Rate and NCAA Academic Progress Rate. At the same time, Bjork played a leading role in launching the largest fundraising campaign in Texas A&M athletics’ history outside of the redevelopment of Kyle Field. It features the construction of an academic and wellness center, football indoor performance center and indoor track stadium, as well as a redevelopment of the Bright Football Complex.
At Texas A&M and throughout his career, Bjork is also recognized for hiring successful coaches. All three of his 2021 head coach hires had outstanding first seasons, with baseball advancing to the final four of the Men’s College World Series, women’s golf advancing to the semi-final match at the NCAA Championships and men’s golf qualifying for the national meet for the first time since 2019.
In the spring of 2021, Bjork provided input and guidance to leaders in the Texas legislature in the development of a name, image and likeness law. He then oversaw the creation of AMPLIFY and AMPLIFY Local Exchange, which equips student-athletes with education and resources related to finance, personal branding, networking and media training.
“The college athletics landscape is changing each day, and Ohio State was firmly committed to finding an athletics director who would lead us with confidence and innovative thinking into the future,” said Hiroyuki Fujita, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. “Ross Bjork possesses all the qualities we had envisioned – and more – and I am thrilled to welcome him to our Buckeye family.”
Before arriving at Texas A&M, Bjork served as director of athletics and vice chancellor for intercollegiate athletics at the University of Mississippi. When hired, he was the youngest athletics director among the Power 5 conferences. He reorganized the external relations structure, including a new partnership with IMG Properties; created the unit for Health and Sports Performance, combining sports medicine, strength and conditioning, nutrition and counseling services; and appointed executive-level administrators for academic support, finance and facilities/game operations. Also, during Bjork’s tenure, Mississippi achieved its highest Learfield Directors Cup finish in the history of the institution.
Prior to that, Bjork was the director of intercollegiate athletics at Western Kentucky University, where the institution’s athletics teams and student-athletes saw immediate success in football, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, cross country and more. Also, under Bjork’s watch at Western Kentucky, the overall cumulative average GPA was over 3.0 for all 391 student-athletes for the first time in program history.
Additionally, he has worked on the senior athletics staffs at the University of California, Los Angeles (2005-2010), University of Miami (2003-2005) and University of Missouri (1997-2003). He began his administrative career at Western Kentucky as an assistant development coordinator in 1996.
“I have been extraordinarily blessed to be a product of college athletics as a student-athlete and fortunate to work with so many outstanding student-athletes, coaches, staff and university leaders throughout my career, and Ohio State represents the culmination of these efforts,” Bjork said. “To be a part of Buckeye Nation, along with its storied traditions and long history of achievement, is a tremendous honor and a welcome challenge for me and our family. I can’t wait to get started.”
Bjork will succeed longtime Senior Vice President and Wolfe Foundation Endowed Athletics Director Gene Smith, who announced in the summer that he would retire in July 2024. A national search for Ohio State’s next athletics leader began soon after, including a university search advisory committee of faculty, staff, students and Buckeyes in the greater community.
“Ross is uniquely equipped to step into our Buckeye community and make an immediate impact,” Smith said. “As I have said, Ohio State has afforded me the professional opportunity of a lifetime, and I am forever grateful. My final, important project over the next several months will be to work with Ross to ensure a smooth and effective transition with our student-athletes, coaches, department staff and university leaders.”
As senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation-Eugene Smith Endowed Athletics Director, Bjork will be a member of the university’s President’s Cabinet. Additionally, he currently serves as the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) 1st vice president and is on the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee. He has served as part of numerous national organizations, including the NCAA Division I Working Group on Transfers and NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee, and as chair of the Southeastern Conference Awards Committee.
Bjork and his wife, Sonya, have two sons. He received his bachelor’s degree in recreation administration from Emporia State University in Kansas, where he played fullback on the football team, and earned a master’s degree in athletic administration from Western Illinois University. His mother is a native of Williamstown, Ohio, where she grew up on the family’s farm. She remains an ardent supporter of TBDBITL.