Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Letter to Editor About New OU AD

An open letter to Jim Schaus, the new athletic director at Ohio University, from alumbus Herb Fitzer:

Dear Mr. Schaus:

I read with interest the article in the Columbus Dispatch today about you taking the helm of the Ohio University athletic program. The part of the story about your aging parents struck a chord with me--my parents are aging as well--and I feel a sort of kinship with you, as do thousands of people with aging parents. I feel that there is a parallel to be drawn about aging parents and the stewardship of OU athletics.

You speaking lovingly about your concern for your mother alone with your ailing father--and how your move to Athens will bring you closer so you may help out with his care if need be--and I pray, as I pray daily for my own father's health that you never have to make an uncomfortable decision regarding the care of your father. You as am I, are your parent's legacy, they, as are my parents, are your history and tradition. You are to be commended for your concern and care for the folks that made you who you are today.

Ohio University also has a history and your legacy at your new position will be your stewardship of the athletic program. The decisions that you make at Ohio University, similar to the decisions that you make about your parent's health care, will profoundly affect the future of many young people who have the desire to pursue both an athletic and academic career at Ohio University. Where will you spend money--how will you spend money? And,how can you best use the resources of Ohio University and the taxpayers of Ohio in the most responsible and judicious manner?

There is no real need to delve into the storied tradition of the "minor" or "orphan" sports offered at Ohio University. There have been a multitude of All-Americans, Olympians and honored alumni from those sports. Ohio University's legacy in these sports is people like Stan Huntsman and Elmore Banton--who have made their mark both at Ohio University and away from their alma mater. The question for you, Mr. Schaus is whether the legacy of the student/athletes in these sports is relevant to the future of Ohio University? I know that you do not have a crystal ball, but how many Stan Huntsmans and Elmore Bantons, or maybe even people more outstanding than them, have been banished from your campus or will never visit your campus because you no longer offer men's track and field or swimming?

How many times in your life did your parents do without a "night out" or eat hamburger in order to allocate funds into something that you needed? Or did they have steak and tell you that the sports equipment or lab fee that you needed for school was someone else's problem? I will bet that it was the former, not the latter. So, my question to you Mr. Schaus, is this, will your stewardship of Ohio University be most similar to the loving, thoughtful way that you handle the care of your parents or will it be the "my way or the highway" style of your predecessor? The taxpayers of Ohio are waiting to see if Ohio University got a real leader or just another athletic director who will take care of football and basketball and continue the wasteful, wonton ways of Kirby Holcutt?

Sincerely, Herb Fitzer