COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State University President Gordon Gee announced his retirement Tuesday after he came under fire for jokingly referring to "those damn Catholics" at Notre Dame and poking fun at the academic quality of other schools.
Ohio State initially called the remarks unacceptable and placed Gee on a "remediation plan" to improve his behavior.
Gee, 69, said in a statement he decided during a vacation last week that he would step down July 1.
"During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection," Gee said. "And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to re-energize and refocus myself."
According to a recording of a Dec. 5 meeting obtained by The Associated Press under a public records request, Gee said Notre Dame was never invited to join the Big Ten conference because "those damn Catholics" can't be trusted.
Gee also took shots at schools in the Southeastern Conference and the University of Louisville, according to the recording of the meeting of the school's Athletic Council.
Gee apologized when the comments were revealed in an AP story last week, saying they were wrong and didn't reflect what the university stands for. "They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate," he said in a May 30 statement. "There is no excuse for this and I am deeply sorry."
Gee, who had taken heat before for uncouth remarks, told members of the council that he negotiated with Notre Dame officials during his first term at Ohio State, which began more than two decades ago.
"The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they're holy hell on the rest of the week," Gee said to laughter at the December meeting attended by Athletic Director Gene Smith, several other athletic department members, 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.
Ohio State trustees learned of Gee's statements in January, met with the president and created the remediation plan for Gee.
Comments by a university leader about "particular groups, classes of people or individuals are wholly unacceptable," said board of trustees Chairman Robert Schottenstein. "These statements were inappropriate, were not presidential in nature and do not comport with the core values of the university."