Buckeyes beset by investigations lately

Updated: January 7, 2005, 2:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Andy Geiger is stepping down as athletic director at Ohio State, citing burnout after almost two years of NCAA investigations into the school's football and basketball programs.

Geiger, whose 11-year tenure included some of the Buckeyes' greatest victories and biggest embarrassments, said he'll leave the post June 30. He denied being forced out due to a series of investigations and public stumbles.

Andy Geiger
Andy Geiger, Ohio State AD since 1994, gets emotional while announcing his retirement.

"I can't help perceptions," Geiger said at a Wednesday news conference. "We talk a lot about reality and perception. I'm a reality guy. I can't help what other people's perceptions are."

From the time Maurice Clarett led the Buckeyes to a football national championship in 2002, the school's athletic department has been beset by NCAA investigations.

"I find my work is no longer fun and I no longer look forward with enthusiasm to each day," Geiger said. "I'm just tired. Just bone-weary. Not the tired that a good night of sleep fixes. 'Burnout,' I guess, is what they call it in the industry."

Geiger, 65, got choked up at one point and took several moments to compose himself. He said the stress of running one of the largest athletic departments in the country led to his decision to leave.

University president Karen Holbrook said Geiger will stay at the school until June 2006 as a fund-raiser and consultant. Geiger, who held the post since 1994, has 17 months left on his contract.

After leading Ohio State to the national title as a freshman, Clarett was suspended for lying to investigators during an NCAA probe of allegations that he received improper benefits from a family friend.

Clarett has accused football coach Jim Tressel of setting him up with cars, said boosters provided him with no-show jobs and that Ohio State professors gave breaks to football players.

A search of court records by The Associated Press revealed at least 14 arrests involving 14 football players in the period following Tressel's hiring in January 2001 and May 2004. Others, such as quarterback Troy Smith and running back Lydell Ross, were suspended for at least one game following other disciplinary problems.

David Kenner, Clarett's attorney, told ESPN the Magazine's Tom Friend that by stepping down, Geiger has vindicated his client.

"It's clear that Mr. Geiger's perception of Maurice was a biased one, considering that as soon as there was an outpouring of unsolicited corroboration supporting Maurice's account, Mr. Geiger was forced to quickly admit that Maurice's statements were not without merit.

"While I am certain that no one takes any joy in Mr. Geiger's sudden resignation, it, together with other recent events would cause one to finally view Maurice Clarett in a completely different and favorable light, as painful as that must be for Mr. Geiger to concede."

Last month, the school imposed a one-year postseason tournament ban on its men's basketball team over an alleged $6,000 payment to a recruit by former coach Jim O'Brien.

Holbrook said the firing of O'Brien on June 8 was the first step in appeasing NCAA investigators. She and Geiger said more penalties may be coming.

There have been numerous calls for Geiger to step down for all that has happened at Ohio State on his watch. He's satisfied that the timing is right for his decision.

"People have called for my job before," Geiger said. "Maybe because we lost a bunch of football games or some other decision. In this environment, it's been especially hard.

"It's the best thing for me and it's healthy for Ohio State. "I don't think it does damage to Ohio State, but I know it's the best thing for me."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.