Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee, one of the nation’s highest-paid university leaders, announced his retirement Tuesday after the disclosure of disparaging comments he made in December about Roman Catholics, the University of Notre Dame and other institutions.
Caption: E. Gordon Gee will step down after being quoted as saying, “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics.”
That's taken out of context and is highly misleading: Gee was explicitly referring to administrators of the U. of Notre Dame, such as late ND executive vice president Father Ned Joyce, and their actions regarding big money sports contracts.
Gee came under fire recently after the Associated Press published remarks he made in a Dec. 5 meeting of the Ohio State athletic council. The AP had obtained a recording of the meeting through a public records request.
In the meeting, Gee said Notre Dame was not invited to join the Big Ten athletic conference because of difficulties he encountered in dealing with Catholic priests who led the university.
“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell the rest of the week,” the AP quoted Gee as saying at the meeting. He continued: “You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.”
Gee later apologized, calling the remarks inappropriate and “a poor attempt at humor.”
Gee’s remarks to the athletic council also were viewed as dismissive of the academic record of schools in the Southeastern Conference. According to the AP, when asked about SEC fans who say the Big Ten can’t count because it is expanding to 14 members, Gee replied: “You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing.”
In addition, Gee said that the Big Ten would accept only “institutions of like-minded academic integrity.” He added: “So you won’t see us adding Louisville,” a reference to the University of Louisville.
Personally, my reaction to Gee's comments is: "Fascinating, tell me more." Big time college "amateur" sports is a remarkable subject that I've studied for most of my life but still want to know more about how it really works. But appreciation for insiders who open up a little seems to be a dwindling minority opinion. In contemporary America, the media and much of the public have an aversion to people speaking their minds about what they are well-informed upon.
I've mentioned before about how in the 1970s, two dominant baseball teams, the New York Yankees under George Steinbrenner and the Los Angeles Dodgers under the O'Malley family, had opposite media strategies. The Dodgers stuck to the old-fashioned method of not airing dirty laundry. Occasionally, a bit of gossip was so awesome that it leaked out of the Dodgers' buttoned down organization — such as handsome Steve Garvey and Hall of Famer Don Sutton having a locker room fistfight over Sutton wisecracking about Mrs. Garvey sleeping with Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch. But mostly, you just heard the usual bromides from the Dodgers (the ones Kevin Costner enumerates for Tim Robbins in Bull Durham). The Dodgers were much derided by the press for this.
In contrast, the 1970s media loved the New York Yankees because owner George Steinbrenner, intermittent manager Billy Martin, superduperstar Reggie Jackson, and various spear-carriers waged their feuds in the newspapers, calling reporters in to denounce each other in detail. At the time, this was widely praised as The Wave of the Future.
But now, the press and public mostly seems to admire smooth marketing efforts and are annoyed by unspun statements.