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Former Ohio State athletic director, Cuyahoga Falls native Jim Jones dies at 83

Jones served as OSU's AD from 1987-94.
Credit: The Ohio State University
Former Ohio State University athletic director Jim Jones.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Ohio State athletic director Jim Jones passed away Wednesday morning in Florida due to natural causes, the university announced. He was 83.

Jones served as the school's athletic director from 1987 until 1994. The Cuyahoga Falls native earned his undergraduate degree from Kent State in 1958 and his master's degree from Ball State in 1964.

Jones joined Ohio State in 1965 as a physical education instructor before moving to the athletic department two years later. There, he primarily worked with Woody Hayes and the football team for four years.

He was named assistant director of athletics in 1970 and associate athletic director in 1977. In 1987, he was named AD after Rick Bay resigned in protest of the firing of head football coach Earle Bruce.

One of Jones' first orders of business was to hire Bruce's replacement, which ended up being John Cooper. Cooper lasted 13 seasons in Columbus and led the Buckeyes to 111 wins (more than any coach in school history except Hayes) and three Big Ten titles, but was also just 2-10-1 against archrival Michigan. The first of those victories didn't come until 1994, after Jones had already retired and been replaced by Andy Geiger.

Jones and his wife Linda maintained a home in Dublin, but resided in Florida during the winter months. He is survived by his wife, his daughter Lynnae MaGinn, son-in-law Mark MaGinn, and two granddaughters: Courtney and Taylor.

"Jim Jones had a significant and positive impact on my life. I will miss him greatly," current OSU athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. "He had a commitment to diversity and made a tremendous contribution to the growth of Ohio State athletics. Sheila and I share our condolences to Linda and his family."

The Varsity O organization honors Jones with an award named after him to recognize male letterwinners at Ohio State who best contribute "to the honor and fame of Ohio State University."

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