Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, the academic administrator Time magazine recently named America’s best college president, has abruptly retired.

This comes after a very awkward incident in which Gee, meeting with Ohio State’s athletic council, joked that Notre Dame wasn’t invited to be a member of the Big Ten because the university’s priests “are not good partners.” According to an Associated Press piece at ESPN:

“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.

In fact the Big Ten had been trying to add Notre Dame for years, but “those damn Catholics” just kept resisting.

The Associated Press discovered a recording of the meeting and published a story about it last week.

Gee announced his retirement yesterday, saying that, “this isn’t about those statements. I have apologized for those remarks and feel incredibly sorry, but I have moved on.” Notre Dame has accepted the apology.

Ultimately this is probably a little ridiculous. His joke isn’t really offensive in any serious sense, but Gee doesn’t have the speech protections enjoyed by tenured professors at Ohio State. Gee, who’s notable for his fundraising abilities, served at the pleasure of the school’s board of trustees.

His retirement will be effective July 1. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer