Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee's apology campaign reached the commonwealth of Kentucky over the weekend.
According to an Ohio State spokeswoman, Gee called University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and Louisville President James Ramsey to apologize for derogatory remarks the OSU leader made about both schools last December that first became public last week.
During a meeting of the Ohio State Athletic Council, Gee — in apparent attempts at humor — took verbal shots at Notre Dame, Roman Catholic priests, the academic quality of schools in the Southeastern Conference, and the academic integrity of U of L and UK.
At the December 2012 meeting, Gee also made disparaging remarks about Bret Bielema, who had just left the head football coaching position at Wisconsin of the Big Ten to become head man at Arkansas of the SEC.
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During the meeting, Gee said the top goal of Big Ten presidents in conference expansion is to "make certain that we have institutions of like-minded academic integrity — so you won't see us adding Louisville."
After laughter from the audience, Gee added that the Big Ten wouldn't add the University of Kentucky, either.
Gayle Saunders, an Ohio State spokeswoman, said on Monday that Gee called Capilouto and Ramsey last weekend to apologize for what he'd said about UK and U of L.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton confirmed that Gee reached out to Capilouto. "They talked. (Capilouto) appreciated the conversation," Blanton said.
U of L spokesman Mark Hebert said that Gee called Ramsey on Sunday morning. Hebert referred questions about the conversation to Ohio State.
OSU's Saunders said "Dr. Gee called to apologize. He has acknowledged publicly that his remarks were an attempt at humor that went awry, were totally inappropriate and do not represent the views of Ohio State University."
Gee's remarks became public last week after The Associated Press obtained a recording of the meeting through an open records request.
Besides the UK and U of L comments, Gee said that Notre Dame did not get into the Big Ten because the university's priests are not good partners.
"The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they're holy hell on the rest of the week," he said. Gee also said "those damn Catholics" can't be trusted.
When asked at the meeting how he responded to SEC fans who point out the Big Ten will soon have 14 members, Gee said "You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we're doing."
In a statement distributed by Ohio State, Robert H. Schottenstein, the chair of the OSU Board of Trustees, said "for the leader of a renowned university, inappropriate comments about particular groups, classes of people or individuals are wholly unacceptable."
Gee said in his statement that "the comments I made were just plain wrong, and in no way do they reflect what the university stands for. They were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate. There is no excuse for this, and I am deeply sorry."