Ohio State President To Press For Changes To College Athletics

Gordon Gee will have "zero tolerance" for player misbehavior

July 13, 2007

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The new president at Ohio State University, the nation's largest, says college athletics must be fixed at the national level and he will have "zero tolerance" for player misbehavior at Ohio State.

Gordon Gee disbanded the athletics department at Vanderbilt University because he felt sports had become too separate from the rest of the university. He doesn't believe the same approach would work or is needed at Ohio State, but his philosophy is the same.

Ohio State, the national runner-up in football and men's basketball last year, is emerging from a troubled period highlighted by the conviction of former football star Maurice Clarett last year on charges of aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon.

"I have zero tolerance for those who do not live by the rules of the university or by the rules of the organizing body," Gee said in an interview Friday. "It's very important for us to set a very high standard for ourselves."

He said Ohio State won't have a bigger fan for players' on-field performance. But, he added, "I'm going to be here to support you to make sure that what we do off the field is consistent with the philosophy and values of the university."

Gee's approach fits the way things work now at Ohio State, athletics director Gene Smith said.

"The focus should always be on what we're here for and that is to educate and to help these young people get their degrees," Smith said. "There's no other priority higher than that."