October 2, 2014

Medina
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Ohio State: University reaches agreement with Gee

COLUMBUS — Former Ohio State University president Gordon Gee, who retired under a cloud after remarks jabbing Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools, will receive a $5.8 million package over the next five years, along with an office, a secretary and a premium parking pass, the university said Monday.

The contract with Gee includes a one-time payment of $1.5 million, an annual salary of $410,000 and a $300,000 annual grant for research on 21st-century education policy. It also retains him as a full professor in the university’s College of Law, pays him health insurance and covers moving and storage expenses.

The deal also will cover the cost of tax preparation and penalties Gee incurred as a result of corrections the university made in reporting his income for 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The agreement, signed by Gee on Monday, didn’t explain the corrections. University spokeswoman Gayle Saunders said the corrections involved miscalculations on Gee’s W2 form dealing with minimal amounts of money.

Gee, 69, retired July 1, shortly after The Associated Press first reported remarks he made to the university’s Athletic Council in December. Those comments included digs at Notre Dame, the Big Ten, the University of Wisconsin athletic director and the University of Arkansas football coach.

Gee apologized for the remarks following a March 11 letter from university trustees requiring such apologies and warning that future misstatements could lead to his firing.

“It was my great calling to have led Ohio State for fourteen years, and I am proud to be able to continue my work for Ohio and Ohio State,” Gee said in a statement released by the university on Monday.

Gee, who was Ohio State president from 1990 to 1997 and from 2007 until he retired, declined an AP request for additional comment Monday. He was one of the country’s highest-paid college presidents, with total compensation of about $2 million a year.

The university had previously confirmed it was spending $190,000 on an office suite in its Page Hall for Gee as part of his new role.

In the audiotaped remarks to the Athletic Council, Gee criticized Notre Dame, saying the university was never invited to join the Big Ten because the university’s religious leaders are not “good partners.”

Gee, a Mormon, also jokingly referred to “those damn Catholics” and lampooned the academic integrity of the University of Louisville and Southeastern Conference schools, singling out the University of Kentucky.

Gee’s retirement ended one of the most remarkable careers in higher education. He was president of a record five major universities — West Virginia, Colorado, Brown, Vanderbilt and Ohio State — and gained a reputation as an ardent supporter of universities as economic engines in a changing world.

He also was a vigorous fundraiser, bringing in $1.5 billion at Vanderbilt and more than $1.6 billion at Ohio State.

Gee also had a long history of off-the-cuff remarks followed by apologies, such as his 2012 quip that the many divisions of the university were like “the Polish Army.”

The December comments were the most egregious to date.