Before the imposing RPAC was the place to work out, there was Larkins Hall. It was much smaller, and by the time it was torn down in 2005, a lot worse for wear. But it had long served the OSU community, much as its namesake, Richard C. Larkins, did, as athletics director for nearly a quarter-century.
Larkins was associated with the University since he came to OSU as a student in the late 1920s. As a student, Dick Larkins played both on the varsity football team and the varsity basketball team, lettering in football from 1928-1930 and in basketball from 1929-1931. He displayed both leadership and smarts from the beginning: He was captain of the basketball team and class president, and he won the Western Conference Medal for scholastic achievement his senior year. Larkins was also a member of the junior honorary, Bucket & Dipper, and the senior honorary, Sphinx.
After earning a bachelor of science degree in Business Administration in 1931, Larkins coached the freshman football team while he worked on his MBA, which he received in 1935. Later that year he left OSU to serve as head coach for the University of Rochester football team.
In 1937 Dick Larkins returned to his alma mater to teach physical education. When the position of Director of Athletics became vacant in 1947, Larkins never actually applied for the job. However, when members of the Athletic Board sat down to discuss possible candidates, Larkins was the only one who had the support of the coaching staff, the physical education department, and retiring Athletic Director Lynn St. John, according to an Alumni Monthly profile.
Larkins’ term as Director of Athletics included the hiring of three head football coaches – the last was Woody Hayes. But his influence on OSU athletics was much broader: Under his leadership, the program expanded to 18 sports, and he oversaw the construction of St. John Arena, French Field House and the adjacent ice rink, as well as an extensive renovation of Ohio Stadium.
In 1976, the Board of Trustees named the recreational facility after Larkins, who had retired in 1970 after 24 years as athletics director. Larkins died April 5, 1977, at the age of 67.