Former Maryland AD Geiger aims to solve Buckeyes' problems


As anyone paying even peripheral attention knows, Andy Geiger, the new athletic director at Ohio State, is walking into a situation rife with problems.

The basketball program, having been under an NCAA microscope for almost a year, is about to hear its fate.

The football program, despite losing only one game last season, lost the wrong one, and hasn't won that game since 1987.

Ohio State athletes' names on police blotters seem to have reached epidemic proportion.

The school is negotiating with the city of Columbus, trying to reach a compromise on a domed arena that will serve both.

And gender equity continues to hang over every athletic department in the country, most recently in Albany, N.Y., where Albany State disbanded three men's sports.

Three-and-a-half weeks into his new job, Geiger, 55, took a day off this week to visit and have lunch.

Geiger's career is replete with success, starting as athletic director at Brown in 1971, 10 years after he graduated from Syracuse. After Brown, he moved through AD jobs at Penn, Stanford and Maryland. On his watch at Stanford, the school won 27 national championships. At Maryland, he cleaned up a cesspool that was threatening to pollute the Potomac River.

At Ohio State, if it's not quite a cesspool, neither is it pretty.

The most worrisome for me has been the sudden spate of Buckeye athletes on police blotters -- drunk driving; lawsuits by landlords; a fight in the parking lot of a bar; driving off without paying for gas; more drunk driving; credit card theft; assault; another drunk driving.

It's a given that coaches can't be 24-hour baby sitters, so, who's responsible, and what can be done to tame this beast?

"It's a very foggy area," Geiger said. "It's impossible to know everything the athletes are doing, and yet, in the end the institution is responsible."

To try to attack the problem at its root, Geiger said he planned to double the number of counselors in the athletic department to eight; not academic counselors, but as he described them, "life counselors."

"I'm taking it to five right now," he said, "to six as soon as I can and eventually I'll get it to a staff of eight."

He is working with a $28 million budget. I would hope it wouldn't take him too long to find the funds.

And yet, other than hiring private detectives to follow every athlete, answers are few.

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