Established in 2005 by the Department of Athletics, the “Pay Forward Society” was created to distinguish a special group of benefactors, whether individual or group, who have provided single gifts of $5 million or more to Ohio State athletics projects.

The society’s name is borrowed from the teachings of former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes.

Pay Forward

Pay Forward Society Contributors


Paying forward is a family affair for the Cranes. Thirty individuals representing three generations of the Columbus-area family pledged $13.5 million to The Ohio State University to establish the Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute and fund early-childhood and foreign-language education initiatives.


The majority of the three-pronged gift will honor Jameson Crane (’47), a former Ohio State football team member and chairman emeritus of  Crane Group, a family-owned, private holding and management company based in Columbus. The Buckeye-laden family tree also includes Tanny Crane (’78), the current president and CEO of  Crane Group; her cousin, Mike Crane (JD, ’78), president of The Crane Group Companies, and Mike’s wife, Paige Crane (’82); Rob Crane, MD, an associate professor of family medicine at the university; and Rob and Tanny Crane’s father, the late Robert S. Crane Jr. (’46), and their mother, Loann Crane (’47).  In addition, the younger generations are represented, with Brian Westwater set to graduate from Fisher College in May 2014, David Crane employed at the Wexner Center for the Arts, and Christie Crane receiving her master’s degree in 2010.

The Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute at The Ohio State University will be the largest and most comprehensive dedicated sports medicine facility in the country. The Crane gift will also fund the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at the university’s Schoenbaum Family Center at Weinland Park, and the Loann Crane Advanced Language Institute, a student resource named for community volunteer and Crane Group Director, Loann Crane.

Entrepreneur Sam Covelli is the Owner and CEO of Covelli Enterprises, headquartered in Warren, Ohio. The company was recently named the 4th largest restaurant franchisee in the nation and employs over 20,000 people.


Covelli Enterprises prides itself on giving back to the communities in which it does business.  Each year, Covelli Enterprises donates over $13 million dollars to local food banks, hunger relief agencies, and other non-profit organizations, through its Operation Dough-Nation and day end donation programs. 

In 2012, Caryn and Sam Covelli made a commitment of $10M to The Ohio State University Foundation in support of the Department of Athletics.  The Covelli’s generous gift will be used to name a new multi-sport arena.  The Covelli Center will be the new competition venue for our Men’s and Women’s Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics, Men’s and Women’s Fencing, and Wrestling programs.  

Jole and Jim Harmon, natives of the Toledo area, have been life-long followers of Ohio State. Their generous gift financed a significant renovation and expansion of the Ohio State practice facilities adjacent to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.


This renovation gave the Buckeyes two natural grass practice fields and two FieldTurf fields like the Ohio Stadium turf, along with four giant towers for the team videographers to record practices, and high-powered sound system, and six towers holding 248 giant lights that has no trouble lighting the four fields.

The Harmon Family Football Park, named for the Harmons, provides Ohio State football with one of the finest, if not the finest, practice fields in all of college football…perhaps even all of football.

Huntington’s long and distinguished history of supporting programs throughout Central Ohio includes their continual partnership with The Ohio State University – a relationship nearly 150 years in the making. Huntington has committed to building a better experience for students, faculty, staff, and the campus community by investing in the renovation of Ohio Stadium and the construction of The Jerome Schottenstein Center.


Strengthening Buckeye Nation™ and the University through projects like these has been an important priority to Huntington, and will continue to be through the next 150 years and beyond.

The Schumaker Family and Trott Family Foundation provided the foundational funding for the Shirley and Harold Schumaker Student-Athlete Development Complex (SSADC) at The Ohio State University.

The Schumaker and Trott families have a legacy of generous support for Ohio State. Their gifts have included: The Harold Schumaker Family Football Field; the Schumaker and Trott Scholarship Funds; and the Horatio Alger Trott Family Scholarship Program, among others.


Their lead gift, in honor of their mother, Shirley, and in memory of their father, Harold, will provide for a state-of-the-art complex where over 800 Olympic sport student-athletes will train. The SSADC will be attached to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and will become a central element of the Athletic District.

The SSADC will provide a strength and conditioning center; sports medicine and athletic training center; and sports nutrition and dining center that will transform the experience of the vast majority of Ohio State’s 1000 student-athletes. Both the efficiencies and synergies created by the SSADC will forever change how Olympic sports function at Ohio State.

Led by Chairman, John F. Wolfe, and board members Pam Farber, Jeff Kaplan, Sara Wolfe Perrini and Bruce Soll, The Wolfe Foundation made a gift of $5 million to permanently endow the position of Director of Athletics.

The Robert F. and Edgar T. Wolfe Foundation supports charitable organizations which benefit the community and its board members feel an investment in Ohio State Athletics is well placed. “We believe that leadership is critical to the athletic program’s long term success,” said Bruce Soll. “This gift is an acknowledgment by the Foundation that leadership is a difference maker.”

“Ohio State’s athletic program is a tremendous source of pride for our community,” said board member Pam Farber. “It is highly visible, creates enthusiasm and a common bond that ties so many of us to the University in a very positive way.”


At the Foundation’s request the annual income from the endowment will be used at the discretion of the Athletic Director. In addition, the position will be permanently named: The Wolfe Foundation Director of Athletics.* Upon his retirement, Gene Smith’s name will be added to the named position: The Wolfe Foundation Eugene Smith Director of Athletics.*

Sara Wolfe Perrini echoed comments by her fellow board members: “The Ohio State Athletic program is truly a highlight in our community and its presence is far reaching. Maintaining its strong leadership is crucial for continued success.”

Grateful to the entire board, Athletic Director Gene Smith shares a special bond with its Chairman, John F. Wolfe. “John Wolfe represents the epitome of integrity,” said Smith. “I have been extremely fortunate to come to know him well. As one of our city’s strongest leaders, his guidance and counsel have been invaluable. I am honored and blessed to call him my friend.”

* Pending Ohio State Board of Trustees approval


Mae and Bill McCorkle, throughout their life journey together, were partners in parenthood, business, and philanthropy, making life better for their community.

Mae’s husband, Bill Jr. (BS, 1947, Real Estate/Finance), who passed away in August 2003, had a passion for athletics. He was a walk-on player for the Ohio State football and baseball teams in 1946, as well as a competitive swimmer. He was also a Navy Seal during World War II. Bill Jr.’s father (Bill Sr.) was a friend of coaching legend Mike Peppe (Ohio State’s first swim coach) and helped see Ohio State’s swimming program launched in 1931.


In 2002, Mae and Bill learned about the initiative to expand Ohio State’s indoor recreation facilities – what would become the Recreation and Physical Activity Center. That turned out to be an exact match with Mae and Bill McCorkle’s love of swimming, philanthropy, and Ohio State. The McCorkles’ generous gift enabled the University to build what is widely recognized as the top aquatic center in the United States.

Martha and Al Phipps left a legacy of giving that will not soon be forgotten.

Al, a 1936 graduate from Ohio State with a degree in mechanical engineering, made his first gift to Ohio State of $2.00 in January, 1941. With money from their estate, Al and Martha made a transformational gift which allowed Ohio State to renovate the varsity golf course and provide scholarships to men’s and women’s golfers. The Phippses were great supports of Ohio State and its golf program. Al especially, loved golf and wanted to ensure Ohio State would become the premiere collegiate golf course in the country.


According to former men’s golf head coach, Jim Brown, the gifts from Martha and Al Phipps allowed Ohio State to host big events, such as the women’s NCAA championships, Big Ten championships and regional NCAA championships. The improvement and maintenance of the Scarlet and Gray courses have benefitted Ohio State students, faculty, staff and alumni alike, and have served as an example of the Phipps’ commitment to excellence.

Simply put, this University, and this community, would be radically different if not for Ohio State graduate Les Wexner.

Les, his foundation, his business, and his associates have pledged, or contributed, well over $200 million to the University. Those donations have touched nearly every discipline, including the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Max M. Fischer College of Business, The College of Law, The College of Veterinarian Medicine, and, of course, the Medical Center, which was recently renamed in his honor.

Leading by example, while encouraging his associates and friends to get involved, has made L Brands a major contributor to Pelotonia, United Way, and the Race for the Cure, among many others. In fact, his business associates have volunteered over 1 million hours to various causes.

“We have to do good, while doing well,” he has often been quoted. And he, his family, and his business do exactly that. He is the essence of what it means to “pay forward” – the needs are now… do whatever you can now….

Ground was broken April 2, 1996 for Value City Arena at The Jerome Schottenstein Center - a testament to the vision of The Ohio State University Department of Athletics to provide modern, state of the art facilities for student-athletes, coaches, staff, supporters and fans - a commitment to excellence. Named after a generous lead gift, the Center pays tribute to Jerome Schottenstein, late Columbus businessman, philanthropist and founder of Schottenstein Stores Corp.


First and foremost, the Schottenstein Center is the home of the Ohio State University Men's and Women's Basketball teams as well as Men's Ice Hockey, the multipurpose facility also hosts a wide variety of special events, concerts, family shows and touring productions ... Home of the Buckeyes - Arena to the Stars!

Michael is a long-time resident of Columbus, accomplished businessman, and generous philanthropist who shares a special bond with Gene Smith.

Michael graduated with a degree in Finance from The Ohio State University in 1961. Michael has been an avid Buckeye fan ever since.

Michael’s generosity is not only to the institution of which he is so proud, but to the people who lead it. Through years of friendship with medical leaders Drs. David Schuller, John Byrd, and Michael Caligiuri, Michael was motivated to give to The James in recognition of the physicians’ tremendous contributions to clinical care, teaching and research. In addition, Michael has been a major contributor to the Herbert J. Block Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit The James.


Michael’s gift provides for a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning center in the new student-athlete development complex for Olympic sports that is currently being designed. When completed, the complex will be the training home for over 800 Ohio State student-athletes. Michael has requested that in recognition of his leadership of the athletic program, the strength and conditioning center be named in honor of Gene Smith.

Jackie and Bill have earned high regard in the Columbus community – and beyond – for their thoughtful and strategic philanthropic work. Their investments in Ohio State have touched many lives on campus: students; student-athletes; coaches, support staff and administrators; cancer and heart/ lung patients, researchers and physicians; and more.


But it was the gift to create Bill Davis Stadium, completed in 1997, that turned Bill Wells into baseball’s most loyal supporter. “Bill always loved athletics, but when he got involved with the baseball stadium, he became really passionate,” said Jackie. If not for Jackie’s graduation in Accounting and her son, Patrick’s graduation, Bill’s attendance record would be perfect!

The latest gift from the Davis Foundation to Ohio State will fund the Davis Foundation Sports Nutrition and Dining Center at the new Schumaker Student- Athlete Development Complex.* Over 800 Olympic sport student-athletes will utilize the Davis Foundation Sport Nutrition Center, including the baseball players.

* Names pending official approval by the BOT