COLUMBUS – A man who calls this region home is the new executive director for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
The organization's Board of Directors announced the selection of Doug Ute on Tuesday morning. A student-athlete at Clear Fork and Ashland University and a former Buckeye Central coach, Ute also has experience as a teacher, athletic administrator, principal and superintendent. He will be the OHSAA’s 11th leader in its 113-year history.
“I have always thought like a former coach and athletic director, and the OHSAA is where I want to be,” said Ute. “I am humbled to be selected by the Board of Directors for this position and join a great team at the OHSAA office. We are all aware of the uncertainties that are before us due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I know that together we can and will be stronger together."
Ute is taking the OHSAA post after spending the last 20 years as a school superintendent, including nine years at Marion Elgin Local Schools and the last 11 years at Newark City Schools. He also coached and taught at Noble Local Schools in eastern Ohio and Buckeye Central High School, which is near his hometown of Bellville in north central Ohio.
Last spring, Ute announced that he was stepping down from his post at Newark to become Deputy Director of the Buckeye Association of School Administrators (BASA), which is the state’s superintendent’s association. Instead of serving Ohio schools at BASA, he will be doing so from the OHSAA. He takes over for Interim Executive Director Bob Goldring, who is the OHSAA’s Senior Director of Operations.
"My focus has always been on helping students become better people, and athletics are such an important part in that," he said. "That is true now more than ever. I can’t wait to get started and help lead our member schools.”
At Newark, Ute helped create the Social, Emotional and Academic Success (SEAS) program that includes counselors, teachers and staff to discuss ways to help students succeed in life. While at Newark, a district of 6,500 students, he expanded the free lunch program, made free breakfast available to all students, and put a strong emphasis on student and family social and emotional health. The school district responded with its highest-ever graduation rate and a renewed sense of pride in the city and school district.
“We are excited to have someone lead our organization with Doug's experience, both in working with student-athletes and with his experience in the workings of the OHSAA,” said Jeff Cassella, President of the OHSAA Board of Directors and Athletic Director at Mentor High School. “The Board of Directors is confident that Doug's leadership style and experience is a great fit to lead the OHSAA through this unique year.”
Ute began his career in 1988 as a basketball coach and part-time business teacher at Noble Local Schools (Shenandoah High School) in Sarahsville in eastern Ohio. He then went to Buckeye Central in New Washington as a teacher and coach, while also serving as the athletic administrator.
In 1996 he became the principal at Marion Elgin and then took over as superintendent in 2000 at Elgin, a district of 1,500 students. Ute became superintendent in Newark in 2009. He served on the OHSAA’s Central District Athletic Board in 2008-09 and has been the Central District’s secretary since the 2011-12 school year.
Ute was a standout student-athlete at Clear Fork High School, graduating in 1980, and played basketball at Ashland University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing. He would later return to Ashland to earn a master’s degree in school administration, a graduate teaching degree in business, a principal’s license and a superintendent’s license.
Ute and his wife, Kory, have four children and eight grandchildren.