OHIO STATE New AD: I learned from ASU shooting
On his first day, Gene Smith vows to be more aggressive with athletes.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Ohio State's new athletics director said Friday that accusations a former football player shot and killed another player at his old school will make him more aggressive in dealing with athletes' problems.
"I will be a better administrator for it and I'll be a better person for it," said Gene Smith, in his first day at Ohio State after being AD at Arizona State.
Former Arizona State running back Loren Wade is accused of shooting former Sun Devils player Brandon Falkner outside a Scottsdale, Ariz., nightclub on March 26. Wade was suspended for the season last year while the university investigated whether he accepted improper benefits and has since been kicked out of school for violating the team's weapons policy.
After the shooting, Smith said he had been aware that Wade had previously threatened another athlete, but did not consider it life threatening. He later learned of a second threat against another athlete.
Smith said Friday that he would not discuss details of what happened at Arizona State, but vowed he will be more diligent in investigating problems with players.
First day on the job
Smith spent his first day on the job meeting staff and reviewing budgets. He said he has no plans to cut sports at Ohio State and would provide for all 900 student-athletes and 300 sports staff.
Smith replaces Andy Geiger, who said he retired because he is burned out, and inherits a program with 36 varsity sports, a budget of more than $80 million and several problems.
In the Buckeyes' football program, quarterback Troy Smith has one game remaining on a two-game suspension for taking money from a booster. The NCAA is looking into allegations by former running back Maurice Clarett that players received money from boosters and frequently were given high-pay, no-show jobs.
Because it is so far along, Smith said he likely would not be involved in an ongoing NCAA investigation into the men's basketball program for alleged violations committed under former coach Jim O'Brien.
Geiger fired O'Brien in June after the coach acknowledged that he gave $6,000 in 1999 to a recruit who never played for the Buckeyes. O'Brien has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Ohio State.
In his new role, Smith said he wants to emphasize collaboration among Ohio State athletic staff.
"The most successful organizations do not operate in silos," he said.
Yes to a 12th game
Smith also said he "loved" the idea of adding a 12th game to Ohio State's football schedule in 2006, partly to bring in more revenue to the program and because "players love to play." He did not know who a potential extra-game opponent could be.
Though he said he would be open to discussing the possibility, Smith said he did not support a college football playoff and preferred the current bowl system.
Smith also said he would not take as visible a role as his predecessor in promoting Ohio State sports, leaving that to other coaches and officials.