Former SID Is Witness To History

Since starting at Ohio State as a student in 1944, Marv Homan has seen all manner of history on the various courts and playing fields of the Buckeyes. He is not shy about sharing those memories, and his upcoming enshrinement into the school's athletics hall of fame provided another platform to do so.

Think you know Ohio State sports? Chances are, you've got nothing on Marv Homan.

Beginning with his freshman year at the school in 1944, Homan missed two football games in 55 years.

From the time he enrolled in '44 until he retired from his post as sports information director in 1987, Homan saw Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard "Hopalong" Cassady and Archie Griffin put on performances that would earn them Heisman Trophies.

On the football field he saw a "civilian national champion" that first year as a student and two more Associated Press title teams ('54 and '68), not to mention every season of Woody Hayes' reign in Columbus.

The Buckeyes played some pretty good basketball all those years as well, including six Final Four teams and the 1960 national champions. There was no NBA when Homan got to campus, but more than a dozen Buckeyes went in the first round of that league's draft during Homan's tenure.

But it was not just the male athletes making names for themselves.

For the 1981-82 season, the NCAA began recognizing champions in women's athletics, and one year later the Big Ten began awarding conference championships for women.

As it turned out, the first dynasty of what has become the flagship of women's sports, basketball, resided in Columbus. The OSU women cagers won or shared each of the first five Big Ten women's basketball championships.

And Homan was there for all of it. While he watched head coaches Woody Hayes and Fred Taylor lead great eras in their respective sports, football and basketball, Homan also knew who to credit for pioneering the women's collegiate sports movement.

"It took a strong personality who believed in the competitive values of sports to get things going, and Phyllis Bailey was such a person at Ohio State," he said.

He said prior to Bailey's arrival and the passage of Title IX in 1972, women's athletics on the Ohio State campus were different than they are today.

On designated occasions, teams of various sports from universities in the region would gather to compete, although Homan said no scores were reported.

"It was just a social gathering of athletes and coaches," he said. "It was literally a social day. That's what they called it and that's how they wanted it referred to."

But Bailey changed that when she came along.

"It didn't bother her to announce the score," Homan explained. "She recognized or felt that was a part of sport competition. And therefore she totally played down this social-day aspect which had been prevalent for years and years – from year one, I suppose."

Now all three of the teams that compete in the sports that are arguably the three most recognizable – football and both basketball squads – are coming off unprecedented back-to-back years of sweeping conference titles, and with such success Ohio State has gotten national praise from publications such as Sports Illustrated and USA Today for its ambition to succeed not just in one or two sports but across the board.

For that, the historian Homan added that the last director of athletics should get his own share of praise.

"I know many people wanted that [universal success], but you know the person that you really have to take your hat off to for that is Andy Geiger," Homan said. "He was one of those unique individuals that wanted to excel in everything. It didn't make any difference what the sport was, he was intensely interested in its success and I think you're seeing the benefits of his efforts right now."

Geiger's day may some day arrive, but first it is Homan himself who will be acknowledged publicly for his work during a 40-year run that saw the Ohio State department of athletics grow from nine sports in Homan's first year on the job (1947) to 28 in his last (1987),

The second weekend in September, Homan will become the fourth administrator to be inducted into the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame joining Lynn W. St. John, Ed Weaver and Dr. Bob Murphy.

"Oh my, well I probably don't stack up well with them, but nevertheless, being one of them is really a great honor," Homan said when his pending induction was announced last week.

He joined Wilbur Snypp in the sports information office, and the two men did for 25 years what has grown into a job of more than a dozen full- and part-time staffers and interns.

In 1973, the office doubled in size, adding D.C. Koehl and Steve Snapp. Remarkably, Koehl is still an employee of the sports information department, and Snapp earlier this year was promoted to a new position outside the department in which he will work as a liaison between the school and the Big Ten Network.

That same year Koehl and Snapp were hired, Homan was named director of the department.

By then Homan was already in the midst of a 30-year career calling both OSU football and basketball on radio along with his duties writing media guides, programs and press releases.

As one can imagine, Homan saw countless memorable moments in his time at Ohio State, including the legendary Snow Bowl in 1950, but he said he is hard-pressed to find a time that rivals this one that happens to coincide with his induction into the hall of fame.

"I guess maybe I would call this the zenith of Ohio State athletics," Homan said.

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