Arkansas AD upset with GeePublished 2:19am Monday, June 3, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long didn’t mince words in his response to what he called “unfounded and slanderous remarks” by Ohio State President Gordon Gee about Razorbacks football coach Bret Bielema.
Long issued a statement Saturday in which he recognized Gee’s apology to Bielema, who Gee called a “thug” in a meeting of Ohio State’s Athletic Council in December.
However, Long was hardly finished — leaving little doubt about his feelings about the brash comments made by Gee, who has come under fire this week after an Associated Press report revealed he mocked Notre Dame, Roman Catholics and the Southeastern Conference during the meeting.
“As a member of the higher education community, a director of athletics and a native of Ohio, I am deeply troubled by the unfounded and slanderous remarks the president of the state’s flagship institution, Dr. E. Gordon Gee, made about coach Bret Bielema,” Long said. “While I recognize Dr. Gee has issued an apology stating his regret for his comments, it does not erase the unwarranted attack on Bret’s character.”
Included in Gee’s remarks were shots at Bielema, who left Wisconsin and the Big Ten in December for Arkansas and the SEC. Gee said he talked with Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez after Bielema left the school for the Razorbacks and that “you could just see there was a lot of unhappiness.”
“That was a blessing to Wisconsin, and they knew it,” Gee said. “He was under tremendous pressure; they didn’t like him. Barry Alvarez thought he was a thug, and he left just ahead of the sheriff.
“… (Bielema) did not leave for necessarily a better job; he left ahead of the sheriff.”
Gee has apologized to multiple people for his comments and was warned by Ohio State’s trustees in March that comments or actions he makes detracting from Ohio State’s core values are not productive and are unacceptable.
One of those he apologized to was Alvarez, who issued a statement of his own.
“I have never said that about Bret, nor had those feelings toward him,” Alvarez said. “I accepted Gordon’s apology and consider the matter closed.”
Bielema posted a copy of a written apology from Gee on Twitter late Friday night, in which Gee wrote that his comments “were unfair, inaccurate and wholly wrongheaded.”
The Arkansas coach tweeted “It’s a start from Mr. Gee. Will take his apology and phone call soon.”