"Today marks a new and exciting era for Bobcats athletics," said Jim Schaus, who was named Ohio's Director of Athletics at a press conference on Monday.
Optimism and hope rang through Schaus' voice as he spoke about the vision of excellence he hopes to achieve at Ohio University.
Schaus outlined a 5 year strategic plan in which he emphasized the importance of good facilities and the role that people play in bringing to fruition a vision of excellence. He believes Ohio can become a premier program in the MAC, with teams competing for MAC Championships each year and growing a national reputation.
The concept of all-around success is nothing new to Schaus. Wichita State has won four consecutive all-sports trophies in the Missouri Valley Conference. Last season, Schaus was honored as the NCAA Division I Central Region AD of the Year.
Success was not only seen on the field but also in the classroom. The collective GPA of WSU student athletes was above 3.0 in each semester during Schaus' nine year stint in Wichita. The graduation rate for student athletes was 25% better than that of WSU students on campus.
A vast turnaround also came in the financial realm. Schaus turned a large deficit into a $1.4 million surplus. With Ohio's budgetary issues, President Roderick McDavis called that fact "music to my ears."
For Schaus, accepting the position marks a return to his roots.
"This is coming home for me," Schaus said.
Schaus is a native of Morgantown, West Virgina, where his parents still live today. The move to Athens allows him to be closer to them. His dad, Fred Schaus, was an all-state player and led Newark High School to an Ohio State Championship. The elder Schaus also went on to collegiate success and a playoff-laden run as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
After Kirby Hocutt's departure to power conference school Miami (FL), some may see the Ohio position as a stepping stone to a larger job. Schaus put that notion to bed.
"I'm definitely here for the long haul," he said.
With rumors swirling about men's basketball coach Tim O'Shea's long term prospects at Ohio and with only two years left on his contract, Schaus may have to address the position within his first year on the job. If O'Shea were to leave, the new Athletic Director is not lacking for experience in mounting coaching searches. Schaus went through the process just last year, hiring a new men's basketball coach at WSU.
The overarching idea that Schaus stressed on Monday was enthusiasm for the future of the Bobcats' program. He asserted that anything less than excellence will not be acceptable. While he will face challenges and obstacles at Ohio, Schaus has the mindset to tackle them.
"If you can dream it, you can do it," he said.