The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

January 31, 2014

FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Gee talks about his philosophy on college athletics

MORGANTOWN — Dr. Gordon Gee, West Virginia University’s interim president, had some interesting observations about intercollegiate athletics on Tuesday in his office.

First of all, he confirmed that when he was at Ohio State as president, he was asked if he was going to fire the school’s head football coach.

“No,” Gee said in response. “I just hope he doesn’t fire me.”

He readily admitted on Tuesday that “sometimes my sense of humor isn’t taken very well.”

Dr. Gee disbanded the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics while president at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He admittedly has no regrets.

“I think that was the right thing to do,” he told me. “Not the sports program itself should be …

“The athletic department should be embedded in the totality of the university. Athletics should not be separated from the rest of the university.

“They should be very much a part of the university, so it represents the best of what the university is about.”

Gee sounded pleased that Vanderbilt has fared very well in major football and basketball since then.

Obviously, they’re the chief revenue-producing sports at most institutions.

“What I believe it’s not so much the organizational structure (in college sports) but in the philosophy that athletics is part of the academic community, said Gee, who also was WVU president in the early 1980s.

“Not separated and not isolated from the academic community. So it’s not so much about whether the structure is embedded; it is about whether the philosophy is greater.”

Dr. Gee said he’s delighted to be back working in Morgantown. He has been taking time to attend some WVU athletic events at the Coliseum.

In an email message from spokeswoman Becky Lofstead on Wednesday evening, President Gee commented on the dismissal of Mike Parsons as deputy athletic director:

“Mike Parsons was of great service to me during my first tenure at West Virginia University, and has given many years of dedicated service to this institution. I sincerely appreciate his commitment to our university. I wish nothing but the best for Mike and his family.”

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Mickey Furfari
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