Harold Enarson, 87, Ohio State President

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The New York Sun

Harold Enarson, the former Ohio State University president who fired football coach Woody Hayes after Hayes slugged an opposing player during a 1978 bowl game, died Friday in Port Townsend, Wash. He was 87.

Enarson was president of Ohio State from September 1972 to September 1981. During his tenure, the university grew in enrollment and increased its hiring of women and minorities.

Growing up poor in New Mexico during the Depression, Enarson enlisted in the Army right after Pearl Harbor, graduated from and worked for the University of New Mexico and also helped expand and revive Cleveland State University in seven years as the fledgling school’s president.


He presided over two universities during tumultuous times on American campuses and wrestled with anti-war demonstrations in addition to labor and fundraising problems. Still, he was forever linked to the downfall of Ohio State’s volatile and successful 28-year coach.

With 1:59 left in the Buckeyes’ Gator Bowl loss against Clemson on Dec. 29, 1978, middle guard Charlie Bauman intercepted a pass thrown by Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter. Bauman ran out of bounds at the Ohio State bench. When Bauman got up after being tackled, Hayes hit him and had to be pulled away by Buckeyes players.

Enarson and then-Ohio State athletic director Hugh Hindman met late into the night and decided that Hayes would be relieved of his duties. Hindman went to Hayes’ hotel room the next morning to tell him he was fired.


Speaking of his tenure for an oral history by the university in 2002, Enarson said he and Hindman agreed that Hayes had to be fired for his actions. Hayes refused to apologize for his behavior, and so he was given no opportunity to resign in lieu of being fired, Enarson said.

“I will forever be associated with the firing of Woody,” Enarson told The Columbus Dispatch in 2001.

Enarson served two terms and more than 20 years as a director of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, before and after his years in Ohio.

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