George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures is teaming with Sports Illustrated Studios and 101 Studios to produce a docuseries based on a three-decade-long scandal in the athletic department at Ohio State University. The docuseries is based on Sports Illustrated executive editor and senior writer Jon Wertheim’s 2020 digital series “Why Aren’t More People Talking About the Ohio State Sex Abuse Scandal?” which revealed he extent of Ohio State’s sports doctor Richard Strauss’ alleged sexual assaults and manipulation of over 350 (reported) student athletes.
In the expose, UFC Heavyweight Champion and OSU alum Mark Coleman for the first time provided Wertheim with his detailed account and disclosed Strauss’ administration of anabolic steroids. Additionally, Coleman (among others) has alleged that Congressman Jim Jordan knowingly ignored Strauss’ alleged abuse of the athletes as he served as the OSU Assistant Wrestling Coach from 1986-1994.
Even after the school identified merit behind Strauss’ alleged abuse claims, he was simply and quietly let go. No formal reports were ever filed, and he remained on the university’s payroll as a tenured professor. Strauss’ behavior continued unchecked when he was able to open a private men’s clinic in Columbus, just down the street from campus. He continued to operate this clinic until his death by suicide in 2005.
“This article uncovers the most widespread sexual abuse scandal in the history of American higher education,” said Weitheim. “It is a story about power, abuse, enabling and the hierarchy of college sports that had been concealed for far too long. 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, Authentic Brands Group and Smokehouse Pictures, their voices and stories—harrowing as they are—will be amplified.”
Strauss’ victims continue to seek justice. Only 162 have reached a settlement of $250,000 each and there are over 250 claims still pending.
Smokehouse Pictures’ Clooney and Heslov will serve as Executive Producers along with Jon Wertheim; Jamie Salter, Corey Salter, Marc Rosen of Sports Illustrated Studios and David Glasser, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari of 101 Studios.
“We’re very pleased to partner with 101 Studios and Sports Illustrated in bringing this devastating and tragic story to light,” said Clooney and Heslov.
“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, Entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, who in partnership with 101 Studios formed Sports Illustrated Studios in 2020. Rosen continued: “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.”
Andrew Kramer of Loeb & Loeb negotiated the deal on behalf of Sports Illustrated Studios.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.