Archived Story

Gee won’t speak at DeSales’ graduation

Published 1:17am Tuesday, June 4, 2013

COLUMBUS (AP) — The president of Ohio State University withdrew Monday as commencement speaker for a Catholic high school after being reprimanded for mocking Notre Dame, Roman Catholics and the Southeastern Conference in comments to the university’s Athletic Council in December.

Gordon Gee was scheduled to speak Saturday at the graduation ceremony for St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus but decided he’ll skip it to ensure the students and their accomplishments are the focus of the event, Ohio State spokeswoman Gayle Saunders said.

The school’s principal, Dan Garrick, said he and Gee spoke Monday in a conversation that started with a “heartfelt apology” from the Ohio State chief.

“He made it very clear that he was concerned that his presence at the commencement would detract from the attention on the kids, and I thought that was a very gracious approach by President Gee,” Garrick said.

Seniors were aware of the possibility that the speaker might change, but Garrick said late Monday that he hadn’t had an opportunity to speak with them about their reactions to it.

Gee apologized for his derogatory comments after an Associated Press report last week revealed he told the Athletic Council that Notre Dame wasn’t allowed to join the Big Ten conference because its leaders were not good partners. He said its Roman Catholic priests were “holy hell” except on Sundays and joked “those damn Catholics” can’t be trusted.

Gee also questioned the academic integrity of SEC schools and singled out the University of Kentucky.

Gee said he didn’t mean to offend anyone. He apologized in a statement and campus-wide email and on Twitter late last week, and he apologized Sunday to the Big Ten for his “hurtful remarks” about some university athletic programs.

The veteran university administrator has a history of headline-grabbing remarks, but the latest prompted the sternest response from Ohio State trustees, who warned him that he could be fired for any more verbal gaffes.

In a March letter, the trustees said Gee’s comments have embarrassed and divided Ohio State. They said he must take remedial steps including making personal apologies, seeking professional help to revisit his personal communications and speechwriting processes and rethinking what speaking engagements he accepts.

DeSales was working through the process of finding a replacement speaker to address its 185 graduating students and several thousand guests, Garrick said.


The Tribune believes it is possible for people with a variety of points of view to discuss issues in a civil manner and will remove comments that, in our opinion, foster incivility. We want to encourage an open exchange of information and ideas. Responsibility for what is posted or contributed to this site is the sole responsibility of each user. By contributing to this website, you agree not to post any defamatory, abusive, harassing, obscene, sexual, threatening or illegal material, or any other material that infringes on the ability of others to enjoy this site, or that infringes on the rights of others. Any user who feels that a contribution to this website is a violation of these terms of use is encouraged to email, or click the "report comment" link that is on all comments. We reserve the right to remove messages that violate these terms of use and we will make every effort to do so — within a reasonable time frame — if we determine that removal is necessary.

Editor's Picks

Apple butter on sale to benefit Shop With a Cop

SOUTH POINT — Law enforcement agencies in Lawrence County have kicked off the annual apple butter fundraiser for the Shop With a Cop program. Every year, ... Read more