Geiger takes Ohio State AD job

April 29, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer


In yesterday's editions, it was reported that outgoing University of Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger attended a Terrapins game in the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball tournament instead of the final game of the men's basketball regular season. On that day, Mr. Geiger was at an ACC administrative meeting held at the same site as the women's tournament. He watched the Maryland women's game, then left immediately afterward in an attempt to return to College Park for the men's game.

COLLEGE PARK -- Less than two weeks ago, Andy Geiger told senior staff members in the Maryland athletic department that he had rejected an overture by Ohio State officials to interview for the athletic director's job. At the time, Geiger repeated that his position here would be his last as a Division I administrator.

Which is why many in the department were surprised to learn last week that Geiger later had interviewed for the job at the Big Ten school. Despite speculation the past few days, they were still stunned yesterday when they heard that Geiger was leaving Maryland after less than four years as athletic director to take the same position at Ohio State.

Geiger, 55, informed Maryland officials yesterday of his decision and was scheduled to be introduced at a 4 p.m. campus news conference today in Columbus, Ohio. Geiger will succeed Jim Jones, who recently announced his retirement after 37 years at Ohio State, the past seven as athletic director.

Maryland president William E. Kirwan could not be reached for comment, and a spokesman said that the university would reserve commenting until after today's news conference.

While not confirming Geiger's selection, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said: "I think the choice we've made is exactly the right person at the right time for Ohio State. We have great opportunities and considerable challenges ahead, and we need someone who can meet both of those."

Geiger, who had a little more than a year left on his five-year contract, also could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Geiger's move leaves Maryland searching for its fourth athletic director in eight years. It also left a question: What pushed Geiger into taking another athletic director's job?

There have been several theories, among them:

* That Ohio State's athletic department budget, reportedly $28 million this year, is roughly twice Maryland's, though the Terrapins have three-quarters as many funded teams (24) as the Buckeyes (32). Maryland is on the verge of making its first profit during Geiger's tenure, but the money will only begin to pay off the interest on a $4 million to $5 million deficit.

"I'm sure that factored into it," associate athletic director Sue Tyler said yesterday. "There were days that he would just roll his eyes and say, 'Sometimes, it's just hard to get things done.' "

* That Geiger could see problems coming if the school's struggling football team didn't turn things around in the next couple of years. Geiger's only significant coaching hire since coming to Maryland was bringing in Mark Duffner two years ago from Holy Cross to replace Joe Krivak, so he did not relish the idea he might have to fire Duffner someday. Duffner could not be reached for comment.

* That Geiger's relationship with several athletic department employees, most notably basketball coach Gary Williams, had begun to deteriorate the past few months. Geiger initially was greeted with great enthusiasm, but the factions that existed under former athletic director Lew Perkins started to resurface. The relationship with Williams, which was strictly on a professional level, had soured when Geiger attended the women's ACC basketball tournament instead of the men's regular-season finale against Virginia, which the Terps needed to win to get into the NCAA tournament.

"I would never call our relationship close," Williams said yesterday. "But that didn't mean we didn't respect each other. As far as his going to the ACC women's tournament instead of our game, he wasn't at some of our other games. That wasn't that big a deal. I'm sure there was pressure on him to be at the women's tournament."

The departure of Geiger means that Maryland officials immediately will begin putting together a search committee to look for a successor. That process could take up to a few months. It took Maryland a little more than a month to hire Geiger, who began the process as a consultant and wound up as the committee's top choice.

Tyler, who served as interim athletic director for three months after the resignation of Perkins in spring 1990, said yesterday that she didn't know whether she'd apply for the job. Tyler wasn't a candidate the last time and could be invited to join Geiger at Ohio State. Geiger will have two associate director openings there and possibly one assistant AD job, considering that two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who holds an assistant's position, had wanted the AD's job.

"It's too early to say anything," Tyler said.

According to those familiar with the situation at Maryland, there are a number of possible successors to Geiger. Among those being mentioned are former Virginia basketball coach Terry Holland, now athletic director at Davidson; former Congressman Tom McMillen, an All-America basketball player at Maryland during the 1970s; Kevin Weiberg, a former associate athletic director at Maryland who is associate commissioner of the Big Ten, and Joe Boylan, the athletic director at Loyola College.

"I just think we need someone who has some feeling -- it doesn't have to be a Maryland graduate -- but someone who has a feeling for the state and the school," said Williams, who hopes to be a part of the search process. "We've been able to come from so far back. We need someone who's going to bring some emotion to the table."

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