UPDATE 6/03/2013 7:59 am
The following is a statement from University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long.
“As a member of the higher education community, a director of athletics and a native of Ohio, I am deeply troubled by the unfounded and slanderous remarks the President of the state’s flagship institution, Dr. E. Gordon Gee, made about Coach Bret Bielema.
While I recognize Dr. Gee has issued an apology stating regret for his comments, it does not erase the unwarranted attack on Bret’s character. It is widely known Coach Bielema placed an emphasis on academics, character development and community outreach while serving at the University of Wisconsin. His 2010 and 2011 football teams won the Wisconsin Athletic Department’s community service and Champs Life Skills awards.
Bret also had 131 academic all-conference selections in seven seasons and his team’s APR figures climbed each year with a most recent multiyear rate of 975 and a final single year rate of 1000. In his time here, Bret has demonstrated the qualities we sought when we brought him to the University of Arkansas and has supported our football student-athletes as reflected in one of our highest spring GPAs.”
When news hit from Sports Illustrated Friday of a transcript of remarks from Ohio State University’s president, Gordon Gee, saying Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Bret Bielema was thought to be “a thug” by his former employer and insinuating Wisconsin wanted Bielama out because of some unspecified impending doom facing the coach or school, we wondered what in the world Gee could be talking about.
“Someone was saying to me, well, you know, Bret Bielema leaving … that was a blessing for Wisconsin and they knew it. Because he was under tremendous pressure. They didn’t like him. Barry Alvarez thought he was a thug. And he left just ahead of the sheriff.”
Well, as it turns out, Bret Bielema isn’t a thug after all.
What a mess, but we will give Gee credit for sending an apology. We also give Bret Bielema credit for making the apology public. That move may do as much to assist Gee as it does to put fears of thuggishness to rest.
Come on, can a man who has a pet pooch named Lucy really be a thug?
It's a start from Mr. Gee. Will take his apology and phone call soon. #1-0 pic.twitter.com/Tc25ITmryZ— Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) June 1, 2013
The University of Arkansas has released the following statement from Bret Bielema after he and Gee spoke on the telephone:
Dr. E. Gordon Gee and I have spoken regarding comments he has now labeled as unfounded, inaccurate and unfair,” Bielema said in a statement. “While I am appreciative he did apologize, my sincere hope is Dr. Gee realizes given the stature of his position the full power his words have to affect public perception. Throughout my career, I have strived to make my name synonymous with high character, values and integrity, and I will continue to do so.”