Ohio State University president Gordon Gee has been taken to task by the school’s board of trustees over comments he made in jest about Catholics and cautioned that a repetition of such behavior could ultimately cost him his job, reports The Wall Street Journal
A March 11 letter from the board chastised Gee for comments he made at a December 2012 meeting of the school's athletic council, during which he joked that “those damn Catholics” couldn't be trusted.
According to a statement issued Thursday by board chair Robert H. Schottenstein, the trustees were made aware of Gee’s comments in January.
One of the topics of the December meeting was the rate at which numerous schools changed athletic-conference affiliations in recent years.
To that effect, Gee spoke of the occasions the Big Ten Conference courted the membership of Notre Dame, which remains unattached in football.
“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they're holy hell the rest of the week,” Gee said.
He also joked about the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky having lower academic standard and said members of the Southeastern Conference did not know how to read or write.
Gee issued a public apology Thursday.
In their letter, the trustees said Gee's comments were unacceptable and detracted from the University’s mission.
They also threw down the gauntlet.
“Although none of us expects this to be the case, should future instances take place, they could constitute cause for even more punitive action, including dismissal, and the Board will have no choice but to take such action,” the trustees wrote.
The letter laid out several steps Gee must follow to undo any damage his words have done and guarantee nothing like this happens in the future.
It also called his ability to make personal connections with a wide variety of audiences one of his greatest strengths and labeled his sense of humor "infectious."
But, the trustees wrote, “on occasion your words that may be intended to bring a bit of levity to some significant issues have, in fact, had the opposite effect.”
As a result, “instead of your words promoting and uniting us, they have sometimes embarrassed and divided us.”
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