Years before I ever even applied to Ohio State I watched a video of a flashmob in the new Ohio Union. The dance ended with Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee being escorted down the aisle by Brutus with a wide smile on his face and a bow tie around his neck: an image of a man who was a perfect fit for Ohio State as an educator at a great university -- an image that will stay with me for life.
Gee has, of course, announced that he will be retiring July 1; an announcement which comes just days after comments he made about Notre Dame and the SEC were brought to the media's attention. Boy did the media have a field day.
Yes, saying "those damn Catholics" can't be trusted was a poor choice. Yes, Gee shouldn't have taken shots at the SEC, even if it was an attempt at humor (and even if it was actually pretty funny). Yes, he has a history of making some of these same mistakes.
That said, Gee's seemingly-forced retirement comes down to the spotlight that Ohio State football draws in the national media. Gee's retirement won't really have an effect on that football team, but it will have a huge effect on the institution. The media seems to forget that Ohio State is actually a school, not just an athletic program.
It is truly sad that a man could lose his job as the head of an educational institution for something so trivial as a few jokes at an athletic function, even if they may have been in poor taste. Gee has been the leader of a truly great university, a university that he should be leading into an even brighter future.
Ohio State is, academically, better than it has ever been. Year after year, freshman classes outrank their predecessors. Every student has seemingly limitless opportunities to advance their education in ways that many universities could only dream of.
Gee has molded an incredible school, but beyond that, he was born to be president at Ohio State. Every student loves him, as he is known best among underclassmen for his bow ties and random appearances at house parties -- all because he wants to get personally involved in the lives of students at the university he presides over. Some make him out as a goofy old man, which admittedly, he is in a way, but in his case, it's a good thing.
Gee is truly loved by the student body, and is being forced out because of the media's obsession with sports and its thirst for controversy.
The retirement of a university president should never be breaking news on ESPN. Sports may be the number one reason for Ohio State to be in the media, but sports are not close to the most important thing at Ohio State.
As a university we have lost a truly great educator before his time, and it is simply sad that this man was forced out on anything but his own terms.
We are Buckeye Nation and we will miss you, E. Gordon Gee.