Ohio State University's board of trustees said one more embarrassing vocal slip-up from President E. Gordon Gee could cost him his job.
In a March 11 letter signed by two of the universities top trustees on behalf of the entire board, Gee was told he embarrassed the university with insensitive comments made during a Dec. 5 meeting of the school's Athletic Council and laid out steps he must make going forward. News of that letter came as additional controversial comments made by Gee surfaced Friday.
Gee has apologized for taking verbal shots at Notre Dame, Catholics, the Southeastern Conference and multiple schools in other conferences during a half-hour speech - comments that initially became public Thursday. In the letter signed by Chairman Robert H. Schottenstein and Trustee Alex Shumate, Gee was told his comments diminished his work and that of the university as a whole, and asked him to issue personal apologies in addition to hiring a "coach" to work on his "global presence and voice," according to the Columbus Dispatch.
A recording of Gee's December comments was obtained by SI.com.
"And I want to make it very clear, we have never invited Notre Dame to join the Big Ten," Gee said, per the website. "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 and the fathers are holy on Sunday and they're holy hell on the rest of the week. You just can't trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or Friday. Literally, I can say that."
He later added, "You know Penn State just abhors Pitt. It would be the same way. Even though we love Cincinnati as a city, we want it to be an Ohio State city. They'd have to take (Ohio State athletic director) Gene (Smith) out and shoot him to let Cincinnati into the Big Ten. There are some things that we just would not do. And that's the way that Penn State also feels about Pitt."
Gee also said it was a blessing for Wisconsin that head coach Bret Bielema left for Arkansas because Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez "thought he was a thug. And he left just ahead of the sheriff."
In response, Alvarez issued the following statement, according to CollegeFootballTalk.com: "Gordon Gee called me to apologize last week regarding comments he knew would be made public. I have never said that about Bret, nor had those feelings towards him. I accepted Gordon's apology and consider the matter closed."
According to the Dispatch, the trustees' letter to Gee said: "Although none of us expects this to be the case, should future instances take place, they could constitute cause for even more punitive action, including dismissal, and the board will have no choice but to take such action."
Gee sent a university-wide apology via email Friday, calling the comments a "poor attempt at humor."
"They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate," Gee added.
"Quite simply, there is no excuse for my comments, which in no way reflect the core values of our university."
His comment to the athletic council were wide ranging, and addressed teams worthy of joining the Big Ten, in Gee's opinion, and included questioning the academic integrity of SEC schools and the University of Louisville.
He said the goal of Big Ten presidents is to "make certain that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity. ... So you won't see us adding Louisville," a Big East conference school. He also said the Big Ten wouldn't add the University of Kentucky.
Gee said it was a mistake not to include Missouri and Kansas in previous Big Ten expansion plans. Missouri eventually joined the SEC.
"You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we're doing," Gee said, according to the recording SI.com obtained, in response to a question that asked how to respond to SEC fans who say the Big Ten can't count because it now has 14 members.
Gee has been in hot water several times for controversial remarks.
In 2010 he commented about Ohio State not scheduling the "Little Sisters of the Poor."
He later apologized to the actual Little Sisters of the Poor in northwest Ohio. Gee also angered Polish-Americans last year when he compared the problem of organizing Ohio State's many divisions to the Polish army.
Part of the steps Gee must now take includes reprioritizing which speaking engagements he accepts, and the board's letter requests that he speaks less.
According to the Dispatch, Gee, who will earn close to $1.9 million in 2013, was told to focus "on a more targeted selection of the most appropriate speaking engagements and appearances at which your presence is requested."