Long but semi-interesting read on Gordon Gee's role in Tat/Tresselgate from ESPN The Magazine. Some notable quotes:
Wearing a scarlet-and-gray-striped bow tie, Gee, typically a flamboyant speaker, flatly praised Tressel's "superb integrity." As Gee backed away from the mic, a reporter started to ask whether dismissing Tressel had ever crossed his mind.
"No -- are you kidding?" Gee interrupted. He sputtered for a second, searching for a one-liner to break the tension. "Let me be very clear," he said. "I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me."
Smith, standing behind Gee, grinned briefly before zipping it, as if caught snickering in class. But nobody else laughed. The joke landed with a silent thud. In the ensuing weeks, as the scandal escalated, the national media recycled the line in blogs and in print, on TV and radio. That offhand remark, a glib aside, would ultimately become the news conference's most famous quote, drawing a host of admonishments from college sports executives.
What were you thinking? was one AD's reaction. Florida president Bernie Machen says he shook his head and thought, I bet you wish you had it back. Five months later, Tressel is gone and Gee is preparing to testify before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. His fellow presidents wonder whether the man who once promised zero-tolerance for Buckeye rule breakers might lose his job in the scandal's wake.
A few years ago, when star linebacker James Laurinaitis deferred NFL millions to return for his senior year, Gee called him and said, "James, I'm going to take you to dinner." The meal turned out to be an NCAA violation -- one of many minor ones Gee commits each year. "I'm more self-reported than any president in the country," he quips.
In all, working with athletics was "easier than I thought," Gee says. Perhaps that's because he didn't meet monthly with the compliance office, normal procedure on other campuses, or because he softened his zero tolerance policy for rule breakers. He tried to create more oversight -- and protect himself -- by creating layers. He appointed a liaison to athletics so that, as he says, "It's not just the AD and the president responsible." Because of the changes, compliance staffers didn't feel they had the power to ask tough follow-up questions. And Tressel, who declined comment for this article, wasn't exactly forthcoming.
When the whole thing blew up this spring, Gee was still left holding the bag. "How would I know that players would sell memorabilia to a tattoo parlor?" he says. "No matter what procedures are in place, people can get around them." Yet he also admits he sent the signal that he didn't want to be bothered. "None of us want to hear bad news," he says. "We hear what we want to hear. It's not just about people being forthcoming. It's about us being receptive, and I start with myself."