The affable, bow-tie wearing president of Ohio State University, E. Gordon Gee, has been reprimanded by the institution’s Board of Trustees for offensive remarks made about Catholics at a meeting of the OSU Athletic Council in December 2012. It was during the meeting, in remarks that met with laughter from listeners, that Gee said that Notre Dame University never joined the Big Ten Conference since Catholic priests cannot be trusted. According to an AP recording of the meeting, Gee said “The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week.” He added, “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.” Gee is a member of the Church of Latter Days Saints.
Gee has since pulled in his horns, having written to the trustees saying “The comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the university stands for.” He also said, “They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate. There is no excuse for this and I am deeply sorry.”
Gee, who is the highest-paid university leader in the United States, also personally apologized to the University of Notre Dame. He has also apologized to the University of Kentucky and the Southeastern Conference (SEC), both of which were also the targets of his misguided humor.
In an email sent to students, faculty and staff on May 31, Gee said ” I write today to acknowledge some statements I made last December in a poor attempt at humor.”
I am deeply sorry for the discomfort I caused, which was wholly unintentional, to members of the Athletic Council and others present in the room at the time of my comments. More broadly, I want to apologize to all who were offended by my remarks, to the University community, and to our entire Ohio State family.”
Quite simply, there is no excuse for my comments, which in no way reflect the core values of our University.”
In a letter sent by the trustees to Gee in March, they wrote that his remarks “were insensitive and inappropriate and have offended others.” While the letter praises Gee for his work as OSU president, it contended that “However, on occasion your words that may be intended to bring a bit of levity to some significant issue have, in fact, had the opposite effect.” Signed by Board Chairman Robert H. Schottenstein and Trustee Alex Shumate, the letter put Gee firmly in the dog house. “Although none of us expects this to be the case, should future instances take place, they could constitute cause for even more punitive action, including dismissal, and the board will have no choice but to take such action.”
Gee’s pay may also be docked as part of the reprimand. He currently earns $2.5 million per year.
This is not the first time that the university leader has been an embarrassment to Buckeyes. For example, in January 2012 Gee compared coordinating the university’s various divisions to the Polish army. He apologized for those comments. In November 2010, he expressed satisfaction that the famed OSU football team does not play anyone comparable to the “Little Sisters of the Poor.” He later apologized to the real Little Sisters of the Poor, who are an order of Catholic nuns dedicated to aiding the impoverished and downtrodden. And in 1992, he called Ohio Governor (who was later a U.S. Senator) a “damn dummy