Someone might to check to see if Gordon Gee’s bowtie is tied too tight. Ohio State’s president is acting like a man who’s not getting enough oxygen to the old noodle.
According to the Associated Press, OSU held a meeting of its athletics council in December. Gee — who served as chancellor at Vanderbilt from 2001 through 2007 — fired off a number of jokes about various schools and conferences during the meeting. He even managed to insult Catholics.
We know this because the notes from that meeting have now gone public.
A few of his inappropriate jokes:
* On why Notre Dame wasn’t invited to join the Big Ten: “The fathers are holy on Sunday and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week… You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.” (Gee is a Mormon.)
* On what the Big Ten looked for in expansion partners: “… institutions of like-minded academic integrity. So you won’t see us adding Louisville.” (He then said the Big Ten wouldn’t be adding the University of Kentucky, either.)
* When asked how Big Ten fans should respond when SEC fans say people in a 14-team league called the Big Ten can’t count: “You tell the SEC when they learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing.”
Gee also said that the Big Ten made a mistake in not adding Missouri and Kansas when it had the chance, which could possibly be taken as an insult by fans of Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers.
Most of Gee’s remarks sound like the kind of thing a person would say jokingly to his peers behind closed doors. But in this day and age there are no closed doors. Gee, a university president, should know that and he should have been more measured in his comments.
As for joking about Catholics, well, that was just pure stupidity for a man in Gee’s position. If he were hosting a late-night talk show? Fine. But a university president can’t say those kinds of things.
Ohio State — sorry, The Ohio State University — has called Gee’s statements inappropriate and said that their president is undergoing a “remediation plan” as a result. Gee himself put out a statement apologizing:
“The comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the university stands for. They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate.”
Some guys just don’t know how to tell a joke. They go too far, they joke when they shouldn’t, etc. That seems to be the case with Gee. After all, this is the same man who once joked during the Jim Tressel scandal that he hoped the coach wouldn’t fire him.
As someone who once lived in Columbus, I can tell you that fans of Ohio State athletics were very glad to see him leave OSU in 1998. And after he did away with Vandy’s athletic department, Commodore fans were just as happy to see his taillights heading right back up I-65 toward Columbus in 2007.