Jim Schaus is happy at Ohio.
In his 11th year in Athens, Schaus has hired 15 coaches and had to work with just two presidents. Consistency and tradition have been the pillars upon which he’s built his branch of Ohio University.
Working with a Mid-American Conference budget, he’s recently been able to help fundraise the construction of Walter Fieldhouse, the Perry and Sandy Sook Academic Center, and new video boards at Peden Stadium and in The Convo.
Throughout a 45-minute conversation with The Post, Ohio’s athletic director discussed the success of Ohio football, new turf at Bob Wren Stadium, the decision to part ways with Saul Phillips and what lies ahead for athletics.
Here are three takeaways:
Faith in Frank
Schaus didn’t hire Frank Solich — Thomas Boeh did. Still, Schaus has played a large role in providing the coach many of the resources he’s needed to catapult the Bobcats to a consistent team in the MAC and on a national stage.
Ohio’s won two straight bowl games and has arguably been one of the best mid-major programs in the country as of late. Part of that is because of his relationship with the coach who is entering his 15th season in Athens.
“Frank has done an outstanding job since he’s been here,” Schaus said. “To have an experienced, proven head coach who knows how to run a football program from top to bottom. He’s just done an amazing job. To have a coach like him in a primary sport, to have that experience and his expertise to help us be successful and to go to nine bowl games in 10 years — it’s just outstanding.”
Bowl games and midweek MACtion have been key to growing the brand of Bobcat football, especially without the money that high-major programs receive.
“The goal every year is to get to a bowl game and win,” he said. “We certainly want to win a conference championship. That’s certainly on the list as well. To be in postseason play, it sends a message to our fans, and it obviously helps recruits. Recruits come here to play at a championship level.”
New face in town
Schaus went more in-depth discussing the shift in men’s basketball, mostly focusing on how important it is to him and Ohio to be at the top of the conference at a consistent level.
Jeff Boals was introduced as the 19th coach in program history on March 18, taking over for Saul Phillips. Boals is very analytically focused — he was a biology major in college. Schaus talked about how this was the right hire at the right time.
“When you have two losing seasons in any sport, especially a high priority sport, there’s going to be people concerned about not consistently winning,” Schaus said. “I understand that — they’re fans and have the right to share that.”
What he was most candid about was how tough it’s been for him over the past two seasons as a person who has always been a huge basketball fan.
“When you win, it’s more incredible as an athletic administrator than (as) someone on the outside, like a fan or media person, can ever understand,” he said. “But when you do lose or have issues, it hurts more because you know all the people involved. When things don’t go well it’s hard.
“Over a longer period of time, you realize that’s a responsibility you have. You hire coaches, you’re part of that process. That comes with the territory. And when you’re not successful, it’s your job to figure out how to address it and get it back where it needs to be.”
The future for Schaus
This fall will mark the athletic director’s 12th in Athens. He’s loved it, and his family has grown to call it home.
For now, the future for him will be in Athens. He wants to continue to grow the Bobcat brand, care for his student-athletes and employees, and see his programs have success on the field. Schaus will continue to fundraise, and he hopes to expand on facilities because being visible on campus must be a priority.
"If you're a student in Columbus ... and you're familiar with who Ohio University is, if it comes through a football game, however that we can contribute to that positively. We have a role being in athletics,” he said. “We are a valuable investment. I think that we do a lot of things for our university and our campus that sometimes people don't realize. That's important to me.
“We're just one small mosaic chip in this gigantic, beautiful mosaic called Ohio University. We're just one piece. It's not just about us."