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How Long Can Ohio State Tolerate President Gordon Gee's Embarrassing Remarks?

Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee
Ohio State president E. Gordon GeeUSA TODAY Sports
Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 11, 2016

Oops, he did it again.

It's easier to list people Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee didn't offend with his comments that were published Thursday by the Associated Press than to list those he did.

In a December meeting with the school's athletic council, Gee took shots at Notre Dame, Catholics and southerners in a way only Gee can.

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.

You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we're doing

Out of bounds? Sure...especially for a university president who once held the same post at Vanderbilt, which is a member of—you guessed it—the SEC.

But is it par for the course for Gee? Absolutely, and that's sad.

Gee took heat during the Ohio State tattoo scandal in March 2011 when he responded to a question about then-head coach Jim Tressel's tenuous status.

"Are you kidding me?" Gee said. "Let me just be very clear. I'm hopeful the coach doesn't dismiss me."

Tressel resigned two months later on Memorial Day.

In 2010, while boasting about the strength of Ohio State's football schedule in comparison to Boise State's and TCU's, Gee made another gaffe.

"I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools," he said. "We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day."

Gee later sent a check and followed up with a visit to the real Little Sisters of the Poor chapter in northwest Ohio.

In January 2012, Gee compared the coordination of the school's many divisions to the Polish Army, for which the Polish-American Congress called "slanderous."

There's a pattern of offensive comments from Gee, and while he has issued various forms of apologies after all of them, they shouldn't be tolerated.

Not from a president of one of the biggest universities in the country.

But they will be.

Gee's place within Ohio State is precisely why he won't, and probably shouldn't be fired. He is the president of one of the biggest universities in the country, and currently leading a $2.5 billion fund-raising campaign, according to ESPN.com.

Gee can withstand a passing public outrage due to a clumsy comment or two as long as his ability to raise money for Ohio State isn't jeopardized.

He's too big to fail.

In a sense, his place on the academic side at Ohio State is a mirror image of the skewed hierarchy of college athletics. When he joked about Tressel firing him, it opened a window into the true structure within big-time college athletic departments.

Tressel ran Ohio State. Joe Paterno had a big influence at Penn State. Nick Saban is Alabama.

From an academic perspective, Gee is in the exact same position.

His job is the overall health of the university, and he performs it at an elite level. Because of that, Ohio State can and will keep him as long as that continues.

He does need to stay away from live microphones though.

 

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