I’m sure he meant it in jest.
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, 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.”
Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown also told the AP that Gee had apologized to Notre Dame president John Jenkins, and that Jenkins had accepted it.
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.
UPDATE: The Catholic League responds:
It’s time for everyone to take a deep breath. I have never met President Gee, but it is clear from what I read that what he said was made in jest. Was it dumb? For someone of his stature, yes. But context and tone matter, as does the frequency of what may be considered an offensive remark: a real bigot is someone who repeatedly, and maliciously, attacks others. Gee is not such a man.
Political correctness has gone too far. Vice President Joe Biden has made his share of dumb remarks, some of which could be considered bigoted. But he is no more a bigot than is the Ohio State University president.