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Ohio State University president plans to retire next year

Ohio State University President Michael Drake plans to retire from that role next year after a tenure highlighted by strategic successes but also complicated by scandals involving the university’s marching band, a prominent football coach and a former team doctor accused of widespread sexual abuse.

Drake, 69, announced the move Thursday, saying he felt the timing is right both for the school and his family. He plans to stay on at least until this academic year ends and remain on the faculty after that.

Ohio State said it will conduct a search for his replacement.

FILE - In this May 18, 2019 file photo a pedestrian passes through The Ohio State University's student union in Columbus, Ohio. Mike Drake, the president of The Ohio State University says he'll retire from that role next year. Drake's five-year tenure at one of the nation's largest universities has included strategic successes, such as record numbers for the school in applications, graduates, research expenditures and donor support. But it also has been marred by scandals involving the university's marching band, a prominent football coach and a former team doctor accused of widespread sexual abuse. (AP PhotoJohn Minchillo, File)

The university lauded a long list of strategic successes under Drake’s leadership, including record numbers for the school in applications, graduates, research expenditures and donor support. His performance as president had satisfied university trustees enough that they took early action to extend his contract into 2021 and were considering increasing his salary to nearly $892,000.

But Drake, an ophthalmologist by training, has repeatedly found himself in the spotlight of negative national attention while leading the Buckeyes. He had left his role as an administrator in the University of California system in 2014 to succeed E. Gordon Gee in the top post at Ohio State.

Just a few weeks into the job, Drake fired Ohio State’s marching band director after an investigation that began before he arrived found a sexualized culture in the band. The decision upset many of its members and alumni, but Drake insisted the director should be held accountable for the band’s practices, even those stemming from old traditions.

FILE - In this May 18, 2019 file photo pedestrians pass through The Ohio State University's student union in Columbus, Ohio. Mike Drake, the president of The Ohio State University says he'll retire from that role next year. Drake's five-year tenure at one of the nation's largest universities has included strategic successes, such as record numbers for the school in applications, graduates, research expenditures and donor support. But it also has been marred by scandals involving the university's marching band, a prominent football coach and a former team doctor accused of widespread sexual abuse. (AP PhotoJohn Minchillo, File)

Last year, Ohio State’s suspension of football coach Urban Meyer for three games for mishandling domestic abuse and other allegations against a former assistant coach drew criticism from many sides. A university trustee who advocated a harsher punishment immediately resigned from the board. Meyer later stepped down as coach after last season, citing a health problem, and became an assistant athletic director.

The wave of criticism over the Meyer case came as Drake and the university were dealing with emerging allegations that school officials years ago knew about but turned a blind eye to widespread, decades-old sexual misconduct by a now-deceased team doctor, Richard Strauss.

After a law firm investigation funded by Ohio State concluded that Strauss abused athletes and other young men throughout his two decades there, Drake apologized publicly for the school’s failure to stop the doctor.

FILE - In this May 18, 2019 file photo pedestrians walk up to the The Ohio State University's student union in Columbus, Ohio. Mike Drake, the president of The Ohio State University says he'll retire from that role next year. Drake's five-year tenure at one of the nation's largest universities has included strategic successes, such as record numbers for the school in applications, graduates, research expenditures and donor support. But it also has been marred by scandals involving the university's marching band, a prominent football coach and a former team doctor accused of widespread sexual abuse. (AP PhotoJohn Minchillo, File)

Nearly 300 men have sued the university over that failure, and those lawsuits are in mediation toward a potential settlement. Some of the men have vocally criticized Ohio State and its leadership for not resolving the matter more quickly.

FILE - In this May 18, 2019 file photo The Ohio State University's football stadium looms above neighboring basketball courts in Columbus, Ohio. Mike Drake, the president of The Ohio State University says he'll retire from that role next year. Drake's five-year tenure at one of the nation's largest universities has included strategic successes, such as record numbers for the school in applications, graduates, research expenditures and donor support. But it also has been marred by scandals involving the university's marching band, a prominent football coach and a former team doctor accused of widespread sexual abuse. (AP PhotoJohn Minchillo, File)

FILE - In this May 18, 2019 file photo pedestrians walk towards The Ohio State University's athletics facilities in Columbus, Ohio. Mike Drake, the president of The Ohio State University says he'll retire from that role next year. Drake's five-year tenure at one of the nation's largest universities has included strategic successes, such as record numbers for the school in applications, graduates, research expenditures and donor support. But it also has been marred by scandals involving the university's marching band, a prominent football coach and a former team doctor accused of widespread sexual abuse.(AP PhotoJohn Minchillo, File)