Meridian Star

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July 31, 2013

Responses, many angry, flood Ohio St after remarks


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Outraged priests. Furious alumni. Offended Roman Catholics.

All were among dozens of people who wrote angry letters and emails to Ohio State University earlier this year over remarks former President Gordon Gee made jabbing Catholics, Notre Dame and Southeastern Conference schools, records show.

Many demanded his firing or immediate resignation, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request.

"The Board should be asking, what would they have done if any other employee of the university made similar remarks about Jews, gays, impaired persons, obese persons, same sex couples or a racially insensitive remark?" Dennis Lyons wrote in a May 31 email. He told the AP in a follow-up email he was satisfied with Gee's retirement.

In Dec. 5 comments to the university Athletic Council, Gee criticized the negotiating tactics of Notre Dame administrators during discussions about joining the Big Ten, saying they weren't good partners. He jokingly said the school's priests were "holy on Sunday and they're holy hell on the rest of the week," and said, to laughter, "you just can't trust those damn Catholics."

On March 11, before the remarks became public, university trustees ordered Gee to begin apologizing for the comments and warned that future transgressions could lead to his dismissal.

Gee, 69, retired July 1, a decision he announced just a few days after the AP first reported on the remarks.

Gee, who was on a Disney cruise when the news broke May 30, saw some of the emails when he returned and responded with further apologies, records show.

"Dr. Gee was on vacation with his family and he returned and indicated he was making the decision to retire," Ohio State spokeswoman Gayle Saunders said Tuesday when asked for comment on the responses' impact on Gee's retirement.

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