Gordon Gee — longtime academic, enemy of Catholic people, devil to Michigan grads everywhere, ruffler of SEC feathers, and soon-to-be-former president of (The) Ohio State University — has announced his retirement, effective July 1, a week after comments he made about "those damn Catholics" and the NCAA's Southeastern Conference. But that's not stopping football fans across the country from laughing all the way to the AARP.
The Columbus Dispatch reports the 69-year-old Gee sent an email to faculty, students, and staff Tuesday afternoon announcing his decision to end his career as a university president, a position he's held on-and-off at OSU for 23 years, with stops in between at Brown and Vanderbilt — and before that at the University of Colorado and West Virginia. "Without question, the university has achieved remarkable success, and it has been my honor and calling to lead it," Gee's email reads. "Ohio State is well-positioned for the future. I love this university, and my relationship with it will continue." Gee's exit seemed imminent to some college sports analysts, like ESPN's Jay Bilas, after some off-color jokes Gee made back in December came to light last week. The Associated Press reported that Gee made the insensitive remarks about Catholics, particularly the ones in charge at Notre Dame, during a closed door meeting with University athletic officials in December. "The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they're holy hell on the rest of the week," Gee said. "You just can't trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that," he added. He also joked that people in the SEC need to "learn to read and write," and that Louisville won't be joining the Big Ten conference, of which the NCAA counts Ohio State as a member, because they have no academic integrity.
Now, in case you don't know, (The) Ohio State University is a bit of a football powerhouse in its own right. The school has multiple national championships and routinely shows up in the NCAA's major bowl games at the end of the season. So there's no shortage of Schadenfreude on Twitter right now:
Notre Dame grad Manti Teo is shocked, he thought Gordon Gee must be made up because no one would say something that stupid publicly.— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) June 4, 2013
So Gordon Gee is retiring as Ohio State president. Just like Jim Tressel retired as Ohio State football coach.— John Niyo (@JohnNiyo) June 4, 2013
Gordon Gee will retire on July 1. Rick Pitino fired him. dispatch.com/content/storie…— Eric Crawford (@ericcrawford) June 4, 2013
With Ohio State president Gordon Gee announcing plans to retire, I look forward to Rutgers hiring him as its new AD.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) June 4, 2013
Singing this, but with "Gordon" in place of "Wendell." youtube.com/watch?v=vcHORm…— edsbs (@edsbs) June 4, 2013
And Gee is being remembered for the things that really matter:
As Gordon Gee retires, let's remember the time he showed up on Reddit playing beer pong - bit.ly/ZLYCEi— Chris Littmann (@chrislittmann) June 4, 2013
Gordon Gee had to be the only university president that'd crash a campus house party and take pics with students. He actually cared #Salute— Fawad Cheema (@FCheemaReport) June 4, 2013
Gee keeps calling his comments a "poor attempt at humor," but this isn't the first time his jokes have landed him in hot water. Back in 2011, he made a joke about former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel firing him when his school was in the middle of an NCAA investigation over Tressel's use of ineligible players during the 2010 season:
Wearing a scarlet-and-gray-striped bow tie, Gee, typically a flamboyant speaker, flatly praised Tressel's "superb integrity." As Gee backed away from the mic, a reporter started to ask whether dismissing Tressel had ever crossed his mind.
"No -- are you kidding?" Gee interrupted. He sputtered for a second, searching for a one-liner to break the tension. "Let me be very clear," he said. "I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."
That seems like nothing compared to Gee's most recent remarks, but it was a very big deal at the time, given the sensitive nature of NCAA investigations. Also, this time he insulted the SEC. You don't get away with that kind of thing in one piece.