Maryland Athletic Director Andy Geiger addressed a group of black faculty and staff members yesterday and pledged to make the athletic department part of the university community.
"I've gotten the impression in the past that the athletic department was here on campus physically but not necessarily in any other way," Geiger said. "It's up to me to defeat that but I need help. . . . Be critics, but come to me, don't keep things inside. I'm eager to work with you."
The meeting was thought to be the first step in mending fences between the athletic department and the black community, both on and off campus. The relationship is said to have suffered since the dismissal of then-men's basketball coach Bob Wade in May 1989.
After Geiger's short talk, one member of the audience asked if Maryland would increase its recruitment of black athletes, particularly in the Washington area. The questioner cited a limited number of blacks who were offered football scholarships over the past year.
"We're foolish if we're not recruiting in this area. We should certainly try to keep the youngsters from the area at home," Geiger said, pointing out that Virginia's rise to national prominence has been fueled in part by area athletes. "I think we need to address the issue of blacks on the assorted coaching staffs; right now, just one of the 10 football coaches is black. That may eventually be part of the problem -- that may be part of the problem now."
Geiger, athletic director at Stanford for 11 years before beginning at Maryland five weeks ago, went on to say that his door would always be open and that he was willing to accept input from the group. Moments later he was given a re'sume' from one of the group members.
Three black staff members were omitted from a Thursday story on the makeup of the Maryland athletic department. They are Javaune Adams-Gaston and Milvia Sadler (academic support unit) and Cleo Long-Thomas (men's basketball office).