Ohio university head quits after remark about Catholics

Ohio State president E Gordon Gee speaks during the Ohio State University spring commencement in Columbus, Ohio 5 May 2013 It is not the first time Gordon Gee, who held the top job at multiple US universities, has come under fire for his comments

The president of Ohio State University has announced he will retire after an off-colour joke about "those damn Catholics" at a rival college.

Gordon Gee, 69, had earlier apologised for that and other comments, which became public last week.

The university last week called the remarks "wholly unacceptable", but stopped short of firing him, putting him instead on a "remediation plan".

Mr Gee, who earns about $1.9m (£1.2m) annually, will step down in July.

At a 5 December meeting, Mr Gee joked about why Notre Dame, a Catholic university, had never been invited to join the Big Ten athletic conference, a prestigious US college sports league.

A recording of the meeting was obtained under a public records request by the Associated Press news agency.

'Holy hell'

"The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they're holy hell on the rest of the week," Mr Gee said, in apparently tongue-in-cheek remarks.

"You just can't trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday."

He also poked fun at the academic ability of the University of Louisville and the Southeastern Conference, another college sports league.

On Tuesday, he said that "after much deliberation" he had decided "to turn over the reins of leadership".

Mr Gee, a Mormon, has previously spoken of the importance of interfaith dialogue.

He has come under fire for other gaffes during his time in the job, which he has held since 2007 and between 1990-97.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    The left wing political correctness continues. I think in time we should all stop joking,talking and smiling. What a sad country the US has become. From a shining star to a bland mash potatoe litagation,liability sue happ(un-happy) place. No wonder lefty American college folks love the UK. The village you created ..bites. American college lefties please leave the UK, God Bless your WWII Vets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    I'm sure he didn't expect being subjected to The Spanish Inquisition for such a tame remark.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    17 Hours ago
    Would the Professor dare comment against the Muslims? No, he wouldn't dare.
    Why would he? Muslim schools are not sports rivals of Ohio State University. Notre Dame is.

    It was a JOKE. Lighten up!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Also, Notre Dame calls their yearly game with Miami(FL) Catholics vs Criminals. That is much more offensive in my opinion and no one felt to mention that. This one IS based on race and bigotry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    He should retire and move to Glasgow and become a Rangers fan. He'd fit right in, they have songs and everything...

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I am both a University of Michigan grad and a Catholic. I was not offended by his comment and the best part in our rivalries is we poke fun at each other. Whether we are talking about ND, OSU or MSU, we all have playful word exchanges. We call OSU students/fans low-brow 'w.t.' and they call us self-aggrandizing arrogant book-worms. It is just about esprit de corps, not bigotry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I don't find anything controversial in Gee's jokes. I don't think he had to apologize, let alone resign. I have slightly less respect for the school than I did.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Perhaps Augustus shouldn't try and keep the feud between Notre Dame and osu going. As a die-hard Notre Dame fan and local resident, I have found the un-Christian comments that emerge from osu staff and alumni disrespectful, disheartening, and disgusting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    It is sad that he is going. I went to OSU under his first term as President and was happy he came back for a second run. He has done so much for the University and for Columbus. While I think he should have been more cautious about his remarks, I deplore the extent that "journalists" go sometimes to get a story. Perhaps they were Catholics from Michigan?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    The United States is supposed to be the land where there is a strong separation between church and state. With that in mind, while Gee's remarks may be rude and offensive, I continue to marvel at the plebeian response of so many Americans when an off-the-cuff remark is just that, off-the-cuff. Resignation may be the price Gee has to pay for his bad taste and timing, but still one has to wonder!

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    @73.andyparsonsga & 74.Peter_Sym.
    I agree.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Is that it?

    I was expecting some incredible 'Ian Paisley in his prime' rant about the pope being the antichrist. Usual lunchtime chat here has far more tongue in cheek abuse being thrown across the table.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    @67 Reading through the article I see nothing about Catholics getting upset and complaining. It would appear that the AP considered it newsworthy enough to submit an FOI request, the only reason for that as far as I can see was to create mischief. The college in a PC funk then decided to admonish him rather than treat it as the joke it was. The fault IMHO lies with our repressive PC culture & AP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Guess I'm missing something, but I'm a stuffy,conservative, old school Catholic & I'm not even slightly offended by what he said. It was supposed to be funny.For goodness sakes...

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    What he said seems fairly mild to me, unless there's something else that isn't reported here? Considering the non-stop succession of scandals involving the RC Church in recent years they can't expect to be exempt from criticism or the odd joke or lampoon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    It's not what you know, it's who you know. She'll say whatever she's told to say. US national security is going down the tubes. Gee, at least it's a woman, right Katty-?? Anyone else feeling stupid for continuing to read the BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Meh, the guy is making upwards of $2 million a year and is 69 years old... People in such a position should step aside anyhow and make room for fresh blood. Sure his comments were lacking in tact, but really how much can be expected from a mormon? bwahaha... The sages of South Park aptly capture my view on mormonism, catholicism, and all religions: "Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb."

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    I think it speaks well of this man that he decided to resign. He realized he is an anti-Catholic fool. It amazes me how so many people bash the RCC, but want their kids to go to RC schools like Notre Dame, Boston College, and Georgetown. They then want their relatives baptized, married and buried by the RCC. The RCC loves everyone. Even an old anti-Catholic bigot from OSU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Sorry, but the context of his remarks were in jest. Perhaps poor choice of words. If a man has to resign over a poor joke, then Catholics are taking themselves way too seriously.


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