Geiger Sets The Record Straight

After introducing Thad Matta, OSU athletic director Andy Geiger met with the media to discuss, among other things, the search process, why it took a month, what he told the candidates, his future plans, his inclination on when the NCAA investigation will be complete, what sanctions OSU may face and details on Matta's contract. Click here for all of those insights.

For nearly five weeks, Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger found himself at the center of controversy as he searched for Jim O'Brien's successor as the school's men's basketball coach.

All's well that ends well, apparently, as OSU hired Xavier's Thad Matta early Wednesday evening. He was introduced to the media Friday afternoon at the Schottenstein Center. Following the press conference, Geiger met with the media and answered questions on the search process and much more.

"We wanted to do whatever it was we needed to do thoughtfully," Geiger said. "You have zero patience, folks. If I take an hour to do something, you seem to be concerned about the fact I'm taking a really long time to do it. We weren't in a rush to hire a coach. We weren't in a rush to fire a coach. We aren't in a rush to finish the NCAA investigation. We're in an urgent mode to do what we do well, carefully and thoughtfully."

Geiger defended the length of the search.

"It's important to take 28 days," he said. "Twenty-eight days in our lives is not a very long time. I remember the search we did when we hired Jim Tressel. The search started on Jan. 2. On Jan. 6, I think it was, there was a headline in the local paper that said `OSU's search drags on.' It's still one of my favorite jokes.

"I don't think 28 days of doing something this important under these circumstances is a really long time."

Geiger shared the two big provisos he shared with each of the coaching candidates.

"I told them there are two things they had to know. Number one, we are undergoing an investigation because we fired a head coach," Geiger said. "Number two, the athletic director who hires you is not going to be here very long because he's 65 and he wants to have a date with his wife here someday soon. A couple years from now, I'm going to be gone. They're going to have a search then. I was up front about those two things.

"We didn't lose a single candidate because of the investigation. They all understood. Jobs are open for a certain reason. I brought it up."

The AD also talked about why it was important to conduct a covert search.

"We did the best we could to try and protect the candidates and the universities," he said. "I tried not to comment about anything because it is impossible to be fair to all the writers who call individually."

Along those lines, Geiger admitted he had to convince Matta late Tuesday to come to Columbus the next morning for his interview, despite the fact it had been publicized.

"He was concerned," Geiger said. "You would have to be in a search -- be a searcher and a searchee -- to understand the emotions and influences that sway back and forth. It involves how I might feel about certain candidates, how Thad might feel about his kids there at Xavier and the issues we will face here at Ohio State. There is inevitable vacillation that goes on. That's why I think it is important to do a `midnight' coaching search."

Geiger was asked if he had any inclination of how long the NCAA investigation might last.

"There's clearly a (civil) trial that's going to happen in this town and we can't possibly finish, probably, until that is finished," Geiger said, referring to the Franklin County court case brought by Kathleen Salyers against two OSU boosters and involving Boban Savovic. "And then some time after that. I don't think we'll know for a very long time.

"The NCAA, in its current way of thinking, if you look back at what happened at Michigan, something that happened several years before, there was very little penalty going forward. It was mostly retroactive. We have taken the most important step we needed to take in rectifying a wrong. Now we will take the next step we need to take, but it will be in due time and in due course."

But Geiger seemed confident that OSU will avoid probation, saying, "I would be very surprised if this coach and this team get penalized severely."

Quotables and Notables

* Geiger was asked about OSU's flirtation with Texas Tech's Bob Knight, a former OSU player: "I'm not going to comment about that."

* Geiger on what he wants from OSU basketball under Matta: "I just want a good solid, sound, aggressive, exciting basketball program."

* Geiger on Matta's spiral bound notebook, which contained his plan for leading a basketball program: "He has a guy who is really good with computers. He has an instant publishing company. He is very much like Coach Tressel in that regard. He was very well prepared. He talked about his values. There was a page for his mission."

* Geiger on the importance of hiring a Midwest guy: "I think he's pretty well connected in Ohio and Indiana. Since that's where we live, that's important."

* Regarding Matta's contract, he has to pay Xavier a $225,000 buyout to get out of his existing deal. But OSU helped him cover that debt by paying him a $300,000 signing bonus.

"He has to pay it," Geiger said. "That's why there was a signing bonus."

Matta's seven-year deal starts at $760,000 -- which includes his OSU base and all supplemental outside income -- and escalates from there.

While some have speculated that Ohio State may be Matta's stepping stone to another college job or possibly the NBA, OSU built in its own retention tool with this contract. Matta will get a $2 million annuity by staying at the school seven years.

"He has to stay all seven years to get that," Geiger said.


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