OSU Gee Takes Shots at ACC, SEC and ND
Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee has been known to put his foot in his mouth from time to time only to later issue an apology. He did it again this past December at a meeting for the schools Athletic Counsel which The Associated Press obtained a recording of under a public record request.
On the recording Gee told members of the counsel that he negotiated with Notre Dame officials during his first term at OSU. Notre Dame has resisted Big Ten courtship for years and last September announced that they would instead join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Gee remarks specifically referred to Rev. Ned Joyce, Notre Dames longtime vice president, who died in 2004. His comments included “The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they are holy hell the rest of the week.” His comments drew laughter from the crowd. “You just cant trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.” said Gee who is a Mormon.
The December 5th meeting was attended by Athletic Director Gene Smith, a 1977 Notre Dame graduate, and by athletic department members, professors and students.
Gee said the ACC added Notre Dame at a time when it was feeling vulnerable. “Notre Dame wanted to have its cake and eat it to” Gee said according to the recording and a copy of the minutes.
Unfortunately Gee’s foolishness didn’t end with Notre Dame. He went on to question the academic integrity of the Southeastern Conference and the University of Louisville while seemingly mocking the ACC for adding them.
The top goal of the B1G presidents is to “make certain that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity” Gee said. “So you wont see us adding Louisville.” After applause he also included the University of Kentucky as well.
Hum. Maybe that is actually a complement. This, after all, coming from someone who seemingly has very little, if any, integrity of his own.
In response, the University of Louisville has sent him information about the upward trajectory of its academics and athletic programs. U of L has made great strides since its days of being primarily an urban university.
Gee also spoke about how he thinks that it was a mistake by the B1G not to include Missouri and Kansas earlier in its expansion plans.
“You can tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing” Gee said in response to SEC fans questioning the Big 10 name despite having 14 members. Gee noted that he was chairman of the SEC during his time as Vanderbilt’s chancellor.
Was this enough for Gee? No. He also took a swipe at B1G Commissioner Jim Delaney. “Jim is very aggressive, and we need to make certain he keeps his hands out of our pockets while we support him.”
Ohio State has called his statements inappropriate and Gee is undergoing a “remediation plan”. He has admitted that his comments were “just plain wrong” and called them “a poor attempt at humor” in his apology.
In a March 11 letter obtained by the AP, OSU top trustees said that Gee’s insensitive comments has embarrassed and divided the university. It laid out several steps Gee must take which includes issuing personal apologies and getting help from professionals to revisit his personal communications and speechwriting process. He must also reprioritize which speaking engagements he accepts.
One could forgive and dismiss these comments as an attempt at slap-stick humor if this was his first offense but if you look into his past you see that he has had many colorful quotes.
In 1992 Gee told the student newspaper that then Governor George Volnovich was a “damn dummy”. In 2010 Gee boasted that OSU football schedule didn’t include teams on par with the “Little Sisters of the Poor”. Last year Gee compared the problem of coordinating the schools many divisions to the Polish army.
In 2011 when he was asked if he considered firing then head football coach Jim Tressel following the memorabilia-for-cash and tattoos scandal that placed OSU on NCAA sanctions, he replied “No, are you kidding? Let me be clear, I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me”. Even though Tressel did step down three months later, one has to wonder about the lack of institutional control after such a remark.
This slap on the wrist goes to prove that if you are a proven fundraiser, Gee has raised billions for his schools, that you are given allot of leeway in your actions no matter how embarrassing they may be. Gee is 69 years old and makes $1.6 million a year. He can charm anyone right out of their wallet. He loves the power and spotlight. Should this type of repeated behavior be accepted by a university president?