Gordon Gee will step down as Ohio State president, retiring July 1 after a series of comments embarrassed the university.
Gee was expected to announce his decision later this afternoon in an email to students, faculty and staff, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
“Without question, the university has achieved remarkable success, and it has been my honor and calling to lead it,” Gee wrote in the email, according to the Dispatch. “Ohio State is well-positioned for the future. I love this university, and my relationship with it will continue.”
Gee has spent the last week apologizing after joking about Catholics, Notre Dame and other schools and the SEC. On Monday, he backed out of a commencement address at a Catholic high school in Columbus.
Gee was on the hot seat when comments he made last December came to light last week. He said he was joking when he referred to “those damn Catholics” and said that priests at Notre Dame are holy on Sunday but “holy hell” the rest of the week. He impugned the academic integrity at Louisville and suggested that Southeastern Conference students are unable to read or write.
Gee said he decided to step down after taking a vacation with his family.
“During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection,” he wrote. “And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reigns of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself.”
After his comments came to the attention of OSU trustees, Gee had been placed on a “remediation plan” to modify his behavior — particularly since this isn’t the first time his flippant remarks have drawn fire. In 2011, with scandals over players’ sale of memorabilia and tattoos coming to light under then coach Jim Tressel, Gee was asked if he might fire the coach. “No, are you kidding?” Let me just be very clear: I’m just hopeful the coach doesn’t dismiss me.”
The comment fell flat and Tressel stepped down three months later.
In 2010, he said that Ohio State’s football schedule didn’t include teams like the “Little Sisters of the Poor,” a remark that forced him to apologize to the Little Sisters of the Poor in northwest Ohio. Last year, he compared coordinating the university’s programs to running the Polish army.