George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures and Sports Illustrated Studios will produce a docuseries about a sports doctor at Ohio State University who was accused of sexual abuse over the last three decades and how the ensuing scandal was covered up.
The documentary series is based on reporting by Jon Wertheim, who for the October 5, 2020 cover story of Sports Illustrated wrote the article “Why Aren’t More People Talking About the Ohio State Sex Abuse Scandal?” The article uncovered over 350 reported cases of student athletes accusing Ohio State’s sports doctor Richard Strauss of sexual assault and manipulation, as well as how the scandal remained concealed for years.
“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,” Wertheim said in a statement. “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.”
Mark Coleman, a UFC Heavyweight champion and an alum of Ohio State, speaks in the documentary and in Wertheim’s piece accusing Strauss of administering anabolic steroids to him. SI additionally reported that after an investigation found merit in other sexual abuse accusations against Strauss, he was quietly let go, but no formal reports were ever filed, and he remained on the university’s payroll as a tenured professor. Only 162 of Strauss’ accusers have reached a settlement of $250,000 each, and there are over 250 claims still pending. Strauus died of suicide 2005.
“We’re very pleased to partner with 101 Studios and Sports Illustrated in bringing this devastating and tragic story to light,” Clooney and Heslov said in a statement.
“It’s enormously important that we continue to shine a light on this ongoing, painful story and further explore its wide-ranging effects,” Marc Rosen, president, entertainment at Authentic Brands Group, who in partnership with 101 Studios formed Sports Illustrated Studios in 2020, said in a statement. “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.”
George Clooney and Grant Heslov of Smokehouse Pictures will serve as executive producers along with Jon Wertheim. Jamie Salter, Corey Salter, and Marc Rosen of Sports Illustrated Studios along with David Glasser, Ron Burkle and Bob Yari of 101 Studios will also executive produce.
Andrew Kramer of Loeb & Loeb negotiated the deal on behalf of Sports Illustrated Studios.