Columbus, Ohio • The president of Ohio State University said Notre Dame was never invited to join the Big Ten because the university’s priests are not good partners, joking that "those damn Catholics" can’t be trusted, according to a recording of a meeting he attended late last year.
At the December meeting of the school’s Athletic Council, Vernal, Utah native Gordon Gee also took shots at schools in the Southeastern Conference and the University of Louisville, according to the recording, obtained by The Associated Press under a public records request.
The university called the statements inappropriate and said Gee is undergoing a "remediation plan" because of the remarks.
Gee apologized in a statement released to the AP.
"The comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the university stands for," he said. "They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate."
Gee, who has taken heat previously for uncouth remarks, told members of the council that he negotiated with Notre Dame officials during his first term at Ohio State, which began more than two decades ago.
"The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week," Gee said to laughter at the Dec. 5 meeting attended by Athletic Director Gene Smith and several other athletic department members, along with professors and students.
"You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that," said Gee, a Mormon.
The Big Ten had for years courted Notre Dame, but the school resisted, seeking to retain its independent status in college football. The school announced in September that it would join the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football. It also agreed to play five football games each year against ACC teams.
In the recording, Gee referred specifically to dealing with the Rev. Ned Joyce, Notre Dame’s longtime chief financial officer, who died in 2004.
"Father Joyce was one of those people who ran the university for many, many years," Gee said.
Gee said the Atlantic Coast Conference added Notre Dame at a time when it was feeling vulnerable.
"Notre Dame wanted to have its cake and eat it, too," Gee said, according to the recording and a copy of the meeting’s minutes.
Gee was introduced by Athletic Council then-chairman Charlie Wilson, and Gee’s name and introduction are included in written minutes of the meeting. Gee’s comments drew laughter, at times loud, occasionally nervous, but no rebukes, according to the audio.
The Athletic Council meets monthly during the fall, winter and spring and makes recommendations on athletic policy including ticket prices. December’s meeting was at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State trustees learned of "certain offensive statements" by Gee in January, met with the president at length and created the remediation plan for Gee to "address his behavior," board president Robert Schottenstein said in a statement.
"These statements were inappropriate, were not presidential in nature and do not comport with the core values of the University," Schottenstein said.
Gee has gotten in trouble for his offhand remarks, most recently during a memorabilia-for-cash and tattoos scandal that cost football coach Jim Tressel his job. Tressel had known about allegations that players were trading game paraphernalia for money and tattoos but didn’t tell the university in violation of his contract and NCAA regulations.
Gee was asked in March 2011 whether he had considered firing Tressel. He responded: "No, are you kidding? Let me just be very clear: I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me." Tressel stepped down three months later.
In November 2010, Gee boasted that Ohio State’s football schedule didn’t include teams on par with the "Little Sisters of the Poor." An apologetic Gee later sent a personal check to the real Little Sisters of the Poor in northwest Ohio and followed up with a visit to the nuns months later.
Last year, Gee apologized for comparing the problem of coordinating the school’s many divisions to the Polish army, an off-the-cuff remark that a Polish-American group called a "slanderous" display of bigotry and ignorance.Next Page >
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