In an example of the lack of critical thinking within an educational community which one would hope should encourage it, Gordon Gee has been forced out of Ohio State after it was reported that he was “ripping” Catholics.
I took the time to explore the context of Gee’s remarks and transcribed more than what you’ll find in the AP or SI stories.
There is nothing for anyone to be upset about.
In a December meeting with the OSU Athletic Council Gee provided the back-story of how Rutgers and Maryland joined the Big Ten. Interesting stuff actually. Here’s Gordon Gee talking specifically about approaching Maryland (start at ~2:30):
We also have talked for sometime about Maryland and Rutgers. But what happened after the meeting was to approach Maryland.
Some of that was precipitated very candidly by the fact that Notre Dame had moved off to the ACC.
I want to make it very clear, we have never invited Notre Dame to join the Big Ten and the reason is the fact that they — first of all they’re not very good partners. I’ll just say that. I negotiated with them during my first term.
[Begin reported excerpt.] [SI’s descriptors included.] ****
“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.
**** [End reported excerpt.] [SI needs you to know Gee is Mormon.]
Father Joyce was one of the people who ran the university for many many years .. saying that .. Notre Dame wanted to have its cake and eat it too and the ACC was feeling very vulnerable and they added Notre Dame as a non-football school something we (Big Ten) would never do. You’re either in or you’re out.
Then he circles back to talk about how Maryland and Rutgers fit in the Big Ten.
Does truth,,, matter?
Let’s look at what Gee really said. No, not the clearly tongue-in-cheek crack that Gee dropped for the specific and receptive audience he was speaking to. What Gee said concerning Notre Dame, after having negotiated with them: “… they’re not very good partners. I’ll just say that.”
Now that’s kinda provocative. Is it true? Is Notre Dame a good partner? Let’s take a look at their current partnership as a non-football member of the ACC. Does Notre Dame want to have their cake and eat it too? HELL YES.
ND just extended their football television contract through 2025 at $15,000,000/year. Do their partners in the ACC share in this? No. Does Notre Dame share in the ACC Basketball franchise built upon Duke and UNC? Yes.
This is not a good partnership. ND wants and gets its cake and eats it. Gee is 100% correct in his assessment is he not?
If your takeaway from Gee’s words is that he an anti-Catholic Mormon bigot, you’re not even trying to listen.
Gee as Ohio State President.
Not that it matters when we’re safe-guarding correct speech and thinking, but Gee was a very good president.
You won’t hear much these days about is Ohio State’s dramatic and holistic improvement well beyond donations, solvency, research grants and caliber of incoming students – though Time recently named him the best college president in America. “Hurr hopefully Jim Tressel won’t fire him” is so much easier to categorize him.
I’m not going to research the metrics Ramzy lays out above. I will tell you that both my parents are OSU alumni and when it was time for me to look at schools, OSU was not on the list. “Just a huge impersonal factory college” was my perception. Two years ago I drove my son out for a visit and would’ve been most pleased if he’d enrolled as an out-of-state student. Without citing admissions selectivity metrics, I can tell you my perception from out of state is that OSU’s reputation is tip-top. The recent OSU alums I’m acquainted with have more pride in their alma mater than other alums from other schools. Not an exaggeration: I know of no other sets of alumni with the pride of community the Ohio Staters share.
While there are surely many drivers for that improvement it’s hard not to credit Gee for much of it.
Ohio State: poorer.
It doesn’t really matter who replaces Gee. It’s possible, but unlikely, that the new president will improve on the momentum Gee’s administration has put in place. No, Ohio State is poorer because they let political correctness trump common sense. They had a choice between making the right call and being cowed by the mob. They chose the wrong.
If pride in your alma mater is a goal worth shooting for, the removal Gee works against it. It reminds a bit of uniquely OSU/Woody Hayes quandary all over again. Trying to explain Woody to someone outside I-270 was a fool’s errand and after a while you just stop. But yet here is OSU worrying about being liked by people who don’t care. Hey. Columbus. Do what’s right and let the chips fall. The rest of the country doesn’t get this and never will.
For more, Eleven Warriors is all over this and doing it better than I am. Click that link. Must read.
The big picture in closing. Because I just can’t stop myself.
History will laugh at this era of Americana. It will compare the current imposed orthodoxy by a strident minority to Nazi Germany, Stalin’s USSR, and Mao’s China. It matters not that correct thinking is not formally enforced by a Gestapo, NKVD, or Cultural Revolution. (Although the IRS and FBI seem to be sliding into those roles.) Because in those examples, it was the threat of a neighbor’s reporting that created a culture of guarded speech and the power to enforce a correctness of thinking was derived from the mob.* The shrillness of social media and 24 hour news cycle chill free speech in the same way black bags and GULAGs did before twitter. The net result is the same. Free speech and free thinking shuts down.**
Over-reaction? I don’t think so, I really don’t. And if you wait until 1939 to take notice it’s too late.
* From a documentary “Chaos and Consent” there’s this: Far from there being a Gestapo officer on every street corner, there were only 28 secret police officials for the Wurzburg region of nearly 1,000,000 people.
** If you don’t think it’s out of control, consider that the NBA and Roy Hibbert just transacted $75,000 of ‘punishment’ for a non-slur because it’s easier to do that versus confront the mob.