George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures will produce a docuseries about a decades-long abuse scandal in the athletic department at Ohio State University.
The series, which hasn’t found an outlet yet, is based on an October 2020 Sports Illustrated story by Jon Wertheim, which detailed a long list of allegations against former Ohio State sports doctor Richard Strauss and university officials’ lack of response. Sports Illustrated Studios and 101 Studios are producing alongside Smokehouse Pictures.
“This article uncovers the most widespread sexual abuse scandal in the history of American higher education. It is a story about power, abuse, enabling and the hierarchy of college sports that had been concealed for far too long,” said Wertheim, who will be an executive producer of the series. “Because these courageous men made the decision to remain silent no longer, we can finally begin to hold the abuser, and those who were complicit in their silence, accountable for their actions — and inactions. With the help of 101 Studios, [SI owner] Authentic Brands Group and Smokehouse Pictures, their voices and stories — harrowing as they are — will be amplified.”
Said Clooney and Heslov in a statement, “We’re very pleased to partner with 101 Studios and Sports Illustrated in bringing this devastating and tragic story to light.”
Wertheim’s story includes an account from former Ohio State wrestler (and UFC champion) Mark Coleman about Strauss’ alleged sexual abuse and administration of steroids to athletes. Coleman also alleges that Rep. Jim Jordan, then an Ohio State assistant wrestling coach and now a U.S. congressman, knowingly ignored Strauss’ abuse.
The university quietly released Strauss from his position in the athletic department, but he remained a tenured professor at Ohio State. He later operated a private clinic near the Ohio State campus before moving to California in 1998. Strauss committed suicide in 2005.
“It’s enormously important that we continue to shine a light on this ongoing, painful story and further explore its wide-ranging effects” said Marc Rosen, president of entertainment at Authentic Brands Group. “We are lucky to be able to tap into the exceptional journalism of Sports Illustrated‘s Jon Wertheim, and we are incredibly proud and humbled to bring even more awareness to his investigation.”
Authentic Brands Group formed Sports Illustrated Studios in partnership with 101 Studios last year.
Clooney, Heslov and Wertheim will executive produce the Ohio State docuseries with Jamie Salter, Corey Salter and Marc Rosen of Sports Illustrated Studios and David Glasser, Ron Burkle and Bob Yari of 101 Studios.
Feb. 23, 11:05 a.m. Updated to reflect Richard Strauss’ relocation to California in 1998.