E. Gordon Gee issued an apology earlier today when the Associated Press published certain remarks the Ohio State president made during a December meeting.
Specifically, Gee made comments about the “damn Catholics” at Notre Dame, Louisville’s academic reputation, and the SEC’s ability to read and write. Naturally, said remarks didn’t go over so well. Gee and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany have already reached out to SEC commissioner Mike Slive and Notre Dame to apologize.
“We find the remarks most regrettable, particularly regarding Father Joyce, who served Notre Dame and collegiate athletics so well and for so long,” Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement released Thursday. “President Gee has contacted [Notre Dame president] Father [John] Jenkins to offer an apology that he has accepted.”
Even with the apology, Delany and Ohio State have been forced into PR duty.
“The remarks made by Ohio State University president Gordon Gee were inappropriate and in no way represent the opinions of the conference,” said Delany. “We have great respect for the University of Notre Dame and the SEC, and we are proud of the rich, competitive history we share with each.”
“For the leader of a renowned university, inappropriate comments about particular groups, classes of people or individuals are wholly unacceptable and are not in line with what we aspire to be as an institution of higher education,” a statement from Ohio State’s board of trustees chairman Robert Schottenstein read.
But the damage has been done. Louisville issued a statement later on Thursday over Gee’s comments, which suggested the Big Ten had “institutions of like-minded academic integrity… So you won’t see us adding Louisville.”
“We understand this is not the first time President Gee has made statements he has regretted,” Louisville spokesman Mark Hebert said via the Wall Street Journal. “We accept his apology. But we will go ahead and send information to his office that might improve his knowledge of the school which is, perhaps, experiencing the sharpest upward trajectory of its academic and athletic programs of any school in the country—the University of Louisville.”
Jokes or not, Gee has pulled attention to his school for the wrong reasons once again.