OSU President Announces Retirement/ Pitino Reaction
Last Thursday Ohio State President E Gordon Gee comments from a December school meeting spread across the media like a ragging wildfire. He said that the “damn Catholics” at Notre Dame couldn’t be trusted and questioned the academic integrity of the SEC and the University of Louisville among other absurd comments. He since has apologized for his comments at the request of OSU. In a March 2011 letter to Gee the OSU trustees laid out several steps for him to take and warned any further incidents could result in his dismissal. In a school email yesterday, Gee announced that he will retire on July 1.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Gee discussed his future with his family while on a Disney Cruise. He said his retirement wasn’t just about his comments. “I have apologized for those remarks and feel incredibly sorry, but I have moved on” he told reporters during a phone interview . He added that he is “quirky as hell” and that he doesn’t do things like most people.
OSU Provost Joseph A. Alutto has agreed to serve as interim president, he previously served the same position in 2007. The Columbus Board of Education were to hold a vote this week on hiring Alutto for their Superintendent opening at the end of the month.
Gee noted his sudden departure now gives OSU a unique opportunity to hire Alutto as interim president before he took another job.
In my opinion, this is good for all of college athletics. Gee is part of the ‘Good Ol Boy network’ that has helped to hold back college football and provided road blocks for positive change. Hopefully new leadership will step forward and college athletics can move beyond power and money and get back to what it is supposed to be focused on, education and athletics.
After Gee comments hit the media last week so did Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino. He went on Louisville radio, the Terry Meiners Show on 840 WHAS, to defend U of L and to put Gee in his place.
“We’ve been the No. 1 grade point average in the Big East the past three years,” Pitino said according to transcripts from the show. “Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. … Ignorance is not just curtailed to coaches or other people; it’s curtailed to presidents as well. President Gee is obviously trying to crack jokes and denigrate other people, and in Louisville — I can’t speak for Kentucky; I’ll let John [Calipari] speak for them — we don’t take kindly to those comments, and we’re very insulted by it. And when people have to make jokes and denigrate others to get laughter, that means they’re truly ignorant of the facts, and certainly he is ignorant of the facts. Really bothered by it.”
Ironically it was Gee comments about Notre Dame and Catholics that drew the strongest response from Pitino. Again, from the show transcripts “What really gets me boiling,” said Pitino, “it’s not Louisville or Kentucky. What gets me boiling is the fact he knocks the Catholics at Notre Dame. I don’t know what denomination he is or what lord he prays to, but trying to get jokes out of that, it really, really boils me . … It’s a pompous attitude and certainly I have a major problem with him, not with Ohio State, and he’s a pompous ass for making those statements.”
Pompous ass indeed. OSU would do better if they had the integrity that U of L has when it comes to academics, and overall.