No, that’s not an overreaction. The entire point of a university president these days is not necessarily to run the university, or to oversee academic institutions or balance the budget. The job of a president is to fund raise – raise money in any way possible… and to stay out of the headlines.
For much of his career at Ohio State, Gee has been very, very good at raising money, and very good at sticking his tiny foot into his oversized mouth. Hopefully, for Ohio State’s sake, for the last time.
By now everyone has heard the two things Gee said to Ohio State’s athletic council in December.
“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,” he added.
What if Gee said that about Muslims, Mormons or Jews? How about if he singled out Hispanics or blacks? Obviously Gee was telling a joke – a very inappropriate and highly offensive one – which is bad enough. But did he not have enough common sense to know that there was a recording device in the room?
Then, perhaps with his bowtie too tight around his neck, Gee continued his crusade to elevate stupidity to another level by stereotyping that Southerners are stupid – something as unoriginal as it is inaccurate.
“You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we're doing,” Gee said when asked about the Big Ten’s math problem – 14 members, but still using the word “ten”.
I think we’ve all figured out what the Big Ten is doing, and I wouldn’t beat my chest about. In fact, I would be ashamed and embarrassed.
1. The Big Ten just invited Rutgers to be a member… Rutgers. How’s that playing out? The New Jersey school is doing all it can to be as dysfunctional as possible while entering its new conference home. Basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for being abusive and calling players offensive names (he may have been taking his cue from legendary Big Ten coach Bob Knight). That led to Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti being fired for allowing Rice to stay on as basketball coach. Rice's replacement, Rutgers grad Eddie Jordan, didn’t actually graduate from the Rutgers – even though the school said he had - which caused another unnecessary uproar (are you seeing a pattern yet?). Then the school replaced Pernetti with Julie Hermann, who has all sorts of problems – the least of which seems to be a sex discrimination lawsuit.
But Rutgers is just doing its best to catch up with the most recent scandals in the Big Ten.
2. Penn State’s administration allowed a serial child molester, Jerry Sandusky, access to campus and gave him the title of coach emeritus. This happened more than a decade after AD Tim Curley and president Graham Spanier had direct knowledge of the Sandusky being accused of raping a ten-year old boy in the showers at the Lasch Football Building at Penn State in 2001.
Legends and Leaders? More like legendary lack of leadership.
3. Then there’s Gee himself. In the midst of Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor-Jim Tressel scandal in the spring of 2011, Gee had had one of his more memorable idiotic statements when his response when asked if he would fire Tressel.
“No, are you kidding? Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me.”
This coming from a president whose university led the way nationally with 375 NCAA violations from 2000-2009. Gee couldn’t tell something was wrong? More than that, Gee, the leader of the university – you know where you go to “learn to read and write” – was going to be dismissed by the football coach? This academia in the Big Ten? Talk about being backwards.
Two months later Tressel resigned; soon thereafter Ohio State was put on two years probation by the NCAA. Tressel, as it turns out, could have saved Ohio State from more embarrassment by firing Gee after all.
Gordon Gee should quit talking. He should take some of his $830,439 annual base salary and buy a pacifier, or, better yet, a gag.
The difference in the SEC’s stupidity (and boy do we have enough to go around) – killing trees; drunkenly sexually assaulting other fans; a football head coach wrecking his motorcycle with his 20-something lover on the back and then lying about it to state officials; players or their parents getting paid cash for playing football; Auburn players committing armed robbery; Damon Evans’ red panties; James Franklin’s foot-in-mouth disease; Les Miles’ grass eating – is that the problems in the SEC don’t reach the presidential level of the university.
We pretty much do our best to keep the embarrassment amongst ourselves – you know those mouth breathers in the South who are not presidents of universities. The same can’t be said about Ohio State, Penn State, and by association, the Big Ten.
The vast majority of this is athletic envy on the part of Gee and his buddies in the Big Ten. SEC has won 26 national titles in football, basketball and baseball since 1990. During that same time, Big Ten members have pulled in three (Michigan football 1997; Ohio State football 2001; Michigan State basketball 2000).
26-3. Not close.
But this isn’t about how much better the SEC is than the Big Ten athletically, because that’s really not up for debate. That is fact. This is about Gee’s continued pattern of ignorant statements.
If Gordon Gee is the person the Big Ten and Ohio State want as their spokesman – their default leader – then they should continue to support him. Because whenever he says something stupid again… and rest assured that he will… Gee’s statements will be taken as him speaking for Ohio State and the Big Ten.
As a mouth-breathing Southerner I might not know much, but I do know that Gordon Gee’s time is limited in Columbus.