As if E. Gordon Gee's comments about Catholics weren't enough, now he's just skipping denominational sniping and taking a run straight at the big guy himself. The Ohio State president has been under fire for several inappropriate and off-base remarks at an OSU athletic council meeting that has become public. On Friday, Sports Illustrated published the entirety of Gee's remarks thanks to an open records request and whoooo boy is there even more juicy comments than initially reported. In addition to further Big Ten expansion, superconferences leaving the NCAA, Bret Bielema as a "thug", and more there was this nugget about the Big Ten Network and the conference adding Maryland and Rutgers.
While E. Gordon and the rest of the conference hierarchy can claim Rutgers and Maryland are "academically in line" with the Big Ten or grit their teeth and attempt to compliment their football programs, the truth of the matter has always been what the two east coast schools mean to the Big Ten Network. Rutgers and Maryland were invited to the Big Ten so the conference can get BTN on cable systems in huge metropolitan areas and so the conference could get more money… or as E. Gordon so eloquently frames it, makes BTN worth more money than God…
"We think it's a great fit for us, they're both AAU institutions, highly credible in terms of their academic ability. They were just invited into the CIC today I noticed and that was very important to them. It gives us 40 to 50 million more viewers, makes the BTN worth more money than God, I can say that. It's a very powerful instrument for us. It provides us a foothold. If you think about this we extend all the way across the midwest through Penn State to Maryland and to the New York area so we have a "T." We go all the way across the midwest and we have that block right there which is 40 to 50 million more people that we add to our network."
I'm not sure how you assign a dollar amount to a spiritual, omniscient being, but if anyone thinks he can do it, it's E. Gordon Gee! And lest you think this is all about money, E. Gordon's job as Ohio State president will be safe because of just that. Last year, Ohio State had the largest endowment growth in the country – up 11.2% to $2.4 billion. The main reason for that growth? A record $365 million in fundraising. He's not going anywhere.
In spite of sparking negative headlines nearly every time he opens his mouth in public or private, money is all that matters in E. Gordon's world and the world of college athletics. Thanks to rising cable fees and demand from passionate sports fans, the Big Ten Network and other networks like it just happen to be the vehicles that can get people like E. Gordon the most money and power as quickly as possible.