Ohio State University president E. Gordon Gee has been reprimanded by the university’s Board of Trustees for jokes he made about Catholics at a meeting of the school’s Athletic Council.
During the council’s December meeting, Gee said Notre Dame University never joined the Big Ten Conference because Catholic priests can’t be trusted.
The Associated Press obtained a recording of that meeting:
“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week,” Gee said to laughter at the Dec. 5 meeting attended by Athletic Director Gene Smith, several other athletic department members, professors and students.
“You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that,” said Gee, a Mormon.
Gee also suggested that the academics at schools in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) are more lax than in the Big Ten, adding that the Big Ten won’t add the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky, the Associated Press reports:
The top goal of Big Ten presidents is to “make certain that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity,” Gee said. “So you won’t see us adding Louisville.”
Gee provided the AP with the following apology:
“The comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the university stands for,” he said in the statement. “They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate. There is no excuse for this and I am deeply sorry.”
Gee has also personally apologized to the University of Notre Dame, the University of Kentucky and the SEC.
Ohio State University trustees met with Gee in January after learning of the comments to come up with a remediation plan.
In March, the trustees sent Gee a letter about how his comments “were insensitive and inappropriate and have offended others.”
The letter goes on to say that if Gee makes similar comments in the future, it could be cause for termination.
The letter also suggests Gee’s pay may get docked as a result of his comments during his next annual review by the Board.
Gee makes a total of $2.15 million annually. He is the highest-paid public university president in the country.
This isn’t the first time Gee has been caught making offensive comments. The AP has an extensive list of them:
- In January 2012, Gee compared coordinating the university’s various divisions to the Polish army, and later apologized for those comments.
- In March 2011, Gee was asked if he’d fire since-ousted football coach Jim Tressel for hiding the fact that players traded memorabilia for money and tatoos. Gee replied: “I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”
- In November 2010, Gee made a comment about how he’s glad the university’s football team doesn’t play anyone comparable to the “Little Sisters of the Poor.” He later apologized to the real Little Sisters of the Poor.
- In 1992, Gee called then-Governor George Voinovich a “damn dummy” to a student reporter.
You can read the entire letter sent from the Ohio State trustees to Gee below.
Gordon Gee released the following statement via a press release on Sunday evening:
This morning, I apologized to the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors for hurtful remarks I made last December in a misguided attempt at humor. I am grateful to my colleagues and to the Big Ten Conference leadership for accepting my apology. The Big Ten universities are some of this country’s most highly accomplished research institutions, working together to solve some of the world’s most vexing problems and educating young people for global leadership. It is my honor to lead a Big Ten member university.I was especially glad for the opportunity to reaffirm my respect and admiration for the University of Wisconsin. It is important to note that my related comments about Coach Bret Bielema–now at the University of Arkansas–were entirely unfounded, inaccurate, and unfair. Without question, Coach Bielema is a remarkably successful professional. I called him yesterday, and he was most gracious. I am reasserting my apology with this statement.