Gordon Gee, the time has come for you to resign as president of the Ohio State University. After the most recent comments made public, there’s no doubt the time has come.
No one doubts the guy can run a school, especially financially (Gee is currently overseeing a $2.5 billion fundraising campaign for OSU and oversaw a successful $1.25 billion campaign at Vanderbilt). And he’s got a sparkling resume, highlighted by his presidency at OSU, West Virginia, Colorado, Brown University and Vanderbilt (of the dreaded SEC! Oh, No!). Bottom line: the guy has chops running a school as evidenced by his $1.9 million salary.
But he needs to display a better sense of awareness for his moments of candor. This is painfully evident.
According to the Washington Post, at a recorded meeting in December for the school’s athletic council, Gee joked the reason Notre Dame was never officially invited to the Big Ten was because of their Catholic influence. He said:
“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.”
Really? Come on. As hyper-sensitive as America is these days, can you possibly believe, as the president of one of the biggest institutions of higher learning in the country (with more than 63,000 students enrolled), that it’s a good idea to joke about a religion with more than 1.2 billion followers worldwide? Plus, Mr. Gee, don’t act like if Notre Dame actually wanted to go to the Big Ten they wouldn’t have had a red carpet reception. The Big Ten had been cajoling Notre Dame to join for years upon years until the Irish finally met a semi-conference deal with the ACC.
Unfortunately, the Gee comments didn’t stop there. Regarding Louisville he said:
“[The Big Ten needs] to make certain that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity, so you won’t see us adding Louisville.”
Yet it still doesn’t end.
Naturally, anyone of importance in the Big Ten needs to mock the SEC, and in the only way they possibly can: by making fun of the academics. He continued:
“You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing”.
What a slap in the face to all the students, professors, administrators and alumni of the SEC.
It’s funny he never makes fun of the athletic dominance the SEC has recently had, especially since 2006, and especially against the Big Ten. Of the ‘major sports’, and since 2006 mind you, the SEC has won three College Baseball World Series, three men’s basketball national championships (including one over Gee’s Buckeyes) and seven football championships (including two over Gee’s Buckeyes). The Big Ten has none since 2006, and we won’t even delve into the 40 national championships won by the SEC in ‘non-major’ sports since 2006.
Still, even excluding these most recent comments, Gee has been in this predicament before.
He oversaw the ridiculous memorabilia-for-cash and tattoos debacle in which esteemed Buckeye scholars (who can read and write, and also happen to play football) were trading football gear for tattoos and cash. He said he just hoped then-head football coach Jim Tressel, who experienced Hayes-ian levels of success while in Columbus, “doesn’t dismiss me!”. Not too long after that, Tressel resigned, and Gee kept his role (and salary).
In late 2010, he bragged about the Buckeyes’ strength of schedule claiming they didn’t play “the Little Sisters of the Poor” (I guess Marshall and Eastern Michigan were above that status in 2010). Not long after that, Texas Christian, of the Mountain West (non-BCS conference), beat the mighty champions of Gee and Delaney’s all-powerful Big Ten Conference, in the Wisconsin Badgers, in the prestigious Rose Bowl Game.
Throw in another uncouth comment comparing the school’s divisions to the Polish Army (a comment that drew bigotry criticisms by Polish-American groups), and it’s readily apparent Gee needs to step down.
There’s no doubt he’s more than capable for his position, but he seemingly doesn’t have the grace for the job. He’s commonly the smartest man in the room (which he undoubtedly knows) but regularly makes the dumbest comments.
The Ohio State University is an outstanding institution. Besides its prestigious academics, it regularly fields one of the most competitive athletic programs in the country. Still, there’s no reason a man in Gee’s position can make the comments he regularly makes and still retain his job.