Andy Geiger was named athletic director at the University of Maryland yesterday, saying he welcomed the challenge of "getting beyond the era of surprises" that has plagued the school in recent years.

"I found the opportunity attractive. I'm not afraid of taking a chance," Geiger said at a news conference in College Park. "After 20 years as an athletic director at private schools, I feel I have more to say than I've had the opportunity to say and I couldn't have a better platform than Maryland."

Geiger, 51, the athletic director at Stanford since 1979, signed a five-year Maryland contract for $125,000 per year. He also will receive a yearly $15,000 annuity and the use of two automobiles. Geiger also has served as athletic director at Brown and Pennsylvania in the Ivy League and will assume his post at Maryland on Oct. 1.

According to University President William E. Kirwan, Geiger was "clearly the first choice" of the search committee formed to find a replacement for Lew Perkins, who resigned in July to take a similar job at the University of Connecticut.

During the end of his three-year tenure at Maryland, Perkins struggled with many issues, including financial problems, NCAA sanctions against the men's basketball program, the decline of the football team and political infighting between factions in the administration and athletic department.

Geiger said yesterday that during the interview process, Kirwan made no attempts to downplay the depth of the department's troubles.

"He kept asking me over and over again if there were things I needed to know," Geiger said. "I know there are ongoing cases, difficulties yet to be resolved, but that didn't influence me whatsoever. If there are problems, trivial or serious, they establish a benchmark; from there we go day-to-day and rebuild.

"If there are going to be harder or worse days ahead I guess we'll have a new definition of the word opportunity. . . . I would like to get beyond the era of surprises."

To that end, Geiger said he has several immediate goals.

"I think we need to get clear in the {athletic} department the sense of being a team and togetherness and getting over whatever problems there are internally. Hopefully the upheaval has come to an end," he said. "Another thing is the bonding of the athletic department with the rest of the university in more open, trusting ways. There seems to be a 'we-they' environment and we need to get past that.

"The other thing is that we need to reach out to the disenchanted {around the state} and we need some money."

Among the other unsettled issues in the Maryland athletic department is the fate of football coach Joe Krivak, 13-20-1 and in the last year of his contract.

"My first priority would be to make this staff work," Geiger said. "I know Joe Krivak a little bit but very little about the situation; I wouldn't presume to make a judgment now. I certainly will be talking with Joe, about what he perceives the problems here to be and what he needs."

Long considered one of the nation's outstanding athletic directors, Geiger has served as chairman of the NCAA football television committee and the Division I basketball committee and was a finalist this summer for the job of commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.

During his tenure at Stanford, the Cardinal won 27 national championships and 96 NCAA individual titles. In the 1989-90 school year, seven Stanford teams finished third or better in the nation, three (women's basketball and men's and women's tennis) winning national championships. The Cardinal football team just missed upsetting No. 6 Colorado Thursday night.

The chairman of Maryland's search committee, William Thomas Jr., said that when Geiger was initially approached the intent was to ask him to consult on Maryland's search.

"I asked him if he would consult with us . . . 'and maybe you'd like to come here yourself,' " Thomas said. "He didn't slam the phone down and that was a modest little clue that maybe he was interested. When he came out for his consultation, the questions began to take on a two-edged approach -- not only was it what can you tell us about intercollegiate athletics but also what can you tell us about you."

Geiger returned to College Park on Monday for a formal interview and spent Tuesday and Wednesday with administration officials and members of the search committee. He was offered the job on Wednesday and immediately accepted, returning to California to notify his staff at Stanford.

Geiger, who described himself as self-confident and intense, still admitted that there were moments during the interview process when he wondered exactly what he was getting himself into.

"I wouldn't say that I was unafraid of the idea {of coming to Maryland} to begin with," he said. "There was the unknown -- the problems, dealing with the period of probation {for the men's basketball program} -- I haven't had those things in my life.

"I'd lie in bed and think about those things and wonder if I was up to it. I knew that there would be considerable scrutiny. It's that aspect that's somewhat daunting."