Ohio State University president Gordon Gee will retire on July 1, ending his leadership of the school that was recently embarrassed by his verbal miscues. Gee, 69, recently sparked anger with comments he made about Catholics and rival universities.
Gee made those comments, reportedly intended as jokes, at a session of Ohio State’s Athletic Council.
“During the council’s December meeting, Gee said Notre Dame University never joined the Big Ten Conference because Catholic priests can’t be trusted,” our colleague Ida Lieszkovszky wrote at State Impact Ohio last week.
He also criticized other schools, rival athletic conferences, and coaches.
Gee issued a public apology for those remarks, which he said “were entirely unfounded, inaccurate, and unfair.” He also said he reached out to leaders of other schools and athletic conferences to apologize personally.
With his trademark bow tie, Gee led Ohio State for more than a dozen years in two stints — from 1990 to 1997 and from 2007 to this summer. In addition to his derogatory comments about other schools, Gee was recently criticized for his lavish spending.
Ohio State records “show Gee stays in luxury hotels, dines at country clubs and swank restaurants, throws lavish parties, flies on private jets and hands out thousands of gifts — all at public expense,” The Dayton Daily News reported last fall.
Gee announced his pending retirement in an email, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
“Gee’s total annual compensation is a little more than $2.1 million,” the newspaper reports. In 2012, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, he was the third highest-paid university leader in the nation. In prior years, he was the top earner.”
Gee attracted attention in 2011, when he sought to lighten the mood at a news conference regarding former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel’s use of ineligible players in games.
Responding to a question about whether he had thought of firing Tressel, Gee said, “No — are you kidding?” He added, “Let me be very clear. I’m just hoping the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”
In March, Ohio State’s trustees sent a letter to Gee warning him that any further verbal mistakes could result in his dismissal.