OSU's Geiger Announces Retirement
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger, claiming to be "burned out," announced his retirement Wednesday afternoon. Geiger will leave the university June 30, one year before his contract was to expire.
Geiger said the decision to retire was his own. He said it was a "bittersweet occasion."
"I'm not running, I'm not hiding," Geiger said. "I'm making a management decision that is best for me and my family."
Geiger said he first considered retiring last summer.
"I'm just tired. Just bone weary," Geiger said. "Not the tired that a good night of sleep fixes. Burnout, I guess, is what they call it in the industry."
University president Karen Holbrook attended the afternoon news conference and thanked Geiger for his service to the university. She said a search committee will begin looking for a new athletic director immediately and that she hopes to have a successor named by June 30. She said the university had no candidates.
Holbrook said Geiger would spend his remaining time at the university working on the structure of academic advising for student-athletes, monitoring of compliance processes and working on booster education.
Ohio State football head coach Jim Tressel said Geiger is one of the most respected and admired leaders in college athletics.
"Andy cares deeply about his coaches, his staff and all of our student-athletes," Tressel said. "That is one of the things that makes him such a special person. We as a football family owe a great deal to his guidance, wisdom and leadership. From a personal standpoint, I very much appreciate the four-plus years I that I have spent with him. Ellen and I look forward to continuing our relationship with he and Eleanor in the future."
Geiger, 65, was named Ohio State's seventh athletic director on April 29, 1994. He officially took over on May 16, 1994.
Geiger was perhaps best known at Ohio State for helping update the university's aging athletic facilities. Under his leadership, Ohio State constructed and opened Bill Davis Baseball Stadium, and the 19,100-seat Jerome Schottenstein Center, which houses men's and women's basketball and men's ice hockey, as well as other entertainment events.
"We're a product of his vision," Ohio State men's ice hockey coach John Markell said. "He wanted ice in this facility. He's the one that fought for it. Here we are standing with a top-10 team in the nation."
The Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium was completed in 2001, which is home to soccer, lacrosse and track and field.
Geiger was also behind the three-year, $200 million renovation of Ohio Stadium, which now seats more than 101,000.
"He has done so much for so many different sports that he certainly deserves a pat on the back," Ohio State baseball coach Bob Todd said.
His last few years at Ohio State were tarnished by several off-the-field incidents. Following the Buckeyes' 2002 football national championship season, Geiger was forced to defend the university after a New York Times article revealed several accusations made against the program by a former teaching assistant, indicating that some football players, specifically ex-tailback Maurice Clarett, received preferential treatment in the classroom.
The NCAA later cleared the university following an investigation.
Geiger also had to deal with other controversies involving Clarett, including claims that the university did not allow Clarett to travel to Youngstown for a friend's funeral the week of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl national championship game. Geiger also suspended Clarett for misleading investigators into Clarett's claim that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen in April 2003 from a car Clarett borrowed from a local dealership.
In June 2004, Geiger fired head men's basketball coach Jim O'Brien after it was revealed that O'Brien paid a recruit's mother $6,000. The recruit, Aleksander Radojevic, never attended Ohio State.
In the fall, Geiger and the university were targeted by a series of articles in ESPN The Magazine that quoted former players, including Clarett, about alleged wrongdoings in the football program. A few days later, O'Brien filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming he was owed at least $3.4 million.
Last month, Geiger announced a self-imposed one-year postseason ban for the men's basketball team in the wake of O'Brien's firing. A few days later, he was responding to questions raised after quarterback Troy Smith was suspended from the Alamo Bowl for allegedly receiving money from a university booster.
In mid-November, Geiger told NBC 4 that he had never experienced widespread trouble that he had recently.
"I've been the college athletic director at five universities for 33 years, all distinguished and fine universities," Geiger told NBC 4 in November. "There had been instances of times when I wish things had been better, but this type of thing is a new one for me and it's not enjoyable."
Geiger told NBC 4 that he was concerned about the perception of Ohio State through all of these incidents. He also said he feels bad that some of the success in other sports gets overshadowed by the negative incidents.
The university's programs were chronicled during national telecasts involving the football team through much of the 2004 season. Last week, some ESPN analysts said that Geiger should step down.
Geiger came to Ohio State from the University of Maryland, where he spent three years as the director of athletics. He also has served in that same capacity at Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University.
"After 33 years as an athletic director at five fine universities," Geiger said, "I find that my work is no longer fun and I don't look forward with enthusiasm to each day."