Don’t you just love it when smart people do stupid things?
Then let’s visit with the current Clown Prince of that category, E. Gordon Gee, President of The Ohio State University.
A quick glance at Gee leads one to scream "prototype academic." Bow tie. Horn rimmed glasses. Slight build. Unruly hair.
And you’d be right. The 69-year-old Gee has been president of more universities than anyone in the country. He’s among the highest paid, too, with a total annual compensation package hovering at $1.6 million.
Gee was an Eagle Scout, received a B.A. in history from the University of Utah, a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law, and an Ed.D. from Columbia’s Teachers College.
Gee was a judicial fellow, a Supreme Court staff assistant and clerked for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. That puts him in very elite company as a legal scholar.
By age 37, he was President of West Virginia University. He followed that stint by leading the University of Colorado, Ohio State, Brown, Vanderbilt, and, since 2007, Ohio State again.
In short, Gee’s one smart cookie.
But how is he able to say so many stupid things and retain such a prestigious position?
Money talks. Gee’s a master fund-raiser. Right now, TOSU’s in the midst of a $2.5 billion campaign.
Man, that would buy a lot of bow ties. In fact, last September the Dayton Daily News reported that Ohio State had spent over $64,000 on bow ties, bow tie cookies, and bow tie pins for distribution by Gee to loyal contributors. Clearly, it takes money to raise money.
Besides being a master fund-raiser, Gee tries to be a good scout. In 2009, he donated a $200,531 bonus, plus an additional 10 percent of that, to increase TOSU’s scholarship funds. That same year, he was named by Time magazine as the best college president in America.
So why does Gee contradict all this wonderfulness with so many outrageous remarks? Remember, this is the guy who said in November 2010, while demeaning TCU and Boise State, that at TOSU "we do not play Little Sisters of the Poor." Then it turned out that TOSU had a weaker schedule than both schools Gee was ridiculing.
The next spring, when Tattoogate broke, Gee was asked if he’d fire head football coach Jim Tressel. Replied Gee: "No, are you kidding? Let me just be very clear: I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me."
Last year, Gee compared the difficulty of coordinating all of TOSU’s various segments to organizing the Polish Army. That prompted umbrage at his slanderous display of bigotry and ignorance from Polish-American groups.
But last December, at a meeting of TOSU’s athletic council, Gee exploded with insults, a virtual super nova. Before the meeting was over, he had revolted Catholics, Notre Dame, the entire southeastern United States, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, the Big Ten commissioner, everyone in the state of Kentucky, and, incredibly, God.
SI.com printed the transcript of the meeting. Sadly, we don’t have space for every insult. And it’s probably best to let Gee speak for himself:
"We have never invited Notre Dame to join the Big Ten…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 Friday."
"[Adding Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten] gives us 40 to 50 million more viewers, makes the Big Ten Network worth more money than God."
"Penn State just abhors Pitt…Even though we love Cincinnati as a city, we want it to be an Ohio State city."
"Bret Bielema leaving…that was a blessing for Wisconsin, and they knew it…They didn’t like him. Barry Alvarez thought he was a thug. And he left just ahead of the sheriff."
"No one admires [Big Ten commissioner] Jim Delaney more than I do…we need to make certain he keeps his hands out of our pockets while we support him."
"The presidents of the institutions are very clear that their number one criteria is to make sure that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity. So you won’t see us adding Louisville…or the University of Kentucky."
"Well, you tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write then they can figure out what we’re doing."
Not since Spiro Agnew served as Vice President has one so prominent disparaged so many so fast.
Called on the carpet by TOSU’s Board of Trustees, Gee has spent the past fortnight spewing apologies. In a statement released to the associated press, Gee said, "The comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the University stands for."
Wow. He’s not so smart.
Even though I received my degrees from an SEC school, I know better than to end a sentence with a preposition.