FAYETTEVILLE — Ohio State president E. Gorden Gee will retire on July 1.

The announcement came days after controversial comments Gee made during a December meeting of Ohio State’s Athletic Council became public following a public records request. Gee took jabs at Notre Dame, the Southeastern Conference and Louisville in recorded comments intended as jokes.

Gee also said Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez considered current Arkansas coach Bret Bielema a “thug” who wasn’t well liked during his tenure with the Badgers. Alvarez denied those comments and Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long called them “slanderous and unfounded.”

Gee apologized to Bielema in an email, which the coach posted to his Twitter page late last week. Gee also called Bielema to apologize for the comments.

“Dr. E. Gordon Gee and I have spoken regarding comments he has now labeled as unfounded, inaccurate and unfair," Bielema said in a statement Sunday. "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.”

Gee served as Ohio State’s president for two terms between 1990-97 and 2007 to present.

He said his decision to retire came after some recent “self-reflection.”

“I recently returned from a vacation with my family, during which time I had a chance to consider the university's phenomenal achievements and the road that lies ahead for it. Ohio State now has a richness of new opportunities that would be the envy of most universities." Gee said in an Ohio State news release. "During my days away, I also spent some time in self-reflection. And after much deliberation, I have decided it is now time for me to turn over the reins of leadership to allow the seeds that we have planted to grow. It is also time for me to reenergize and refocus myself."

— Arkansas News Bureau