MORGANTOWN, WV (WTVN) -- After saying he was only taking the job on a temporary basis, it appears Gordon Gee will stay a little longer at West Virginia University.
A search committee is recommending the Board of Governors remove the interim tag from Gee's title. They'll first have to rescind a motion made last November prohibiting the interim president from taking the job permanently.
“Gordon Gee is absolutely, hands-down the very best person to be at the helm of West Virginia University at this important time and place in our history,” said Board of Governors Chairman and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee James W. Dailey II. “I know we recruited him to serve until a permanent leader was in place and said the interim president would not be a candidate for the permanent presidency, but the search committee had a change of heart."
Dailey says he's spoken with students and alumni from around the country who thought Gee should keep the job. So two weeks ago he invited Gee to his home and asked him if he'd take the job. Gee said yes.
"To tell you the very truth I was delighted. I was very surprised," Dailey said.
Gee left Ohio State after audio from an athletics council meeting went public. They included jokes Gee made about Catholics, the University of Notre Dame, University of Louisville, University of Kentucky, and Southeastern Conference.
"We actually, as a committee, listened to the whole tape," Dailey said. They didn't hear anything offensive.
"There was nothing malicious. There was nothing damning to any one particular group or facet of people," he said.
Dailey even said the Catholics on the committee weren't offended by the comments.
OSU had put restrictions on Gee's speaking engagements, something Dailey says won't happen at WVU.
Gee said he was humbled and honored to be named to the post.
“My return to West Virginia has reminded me of the special spirit of this university and the unique role it plays in this state. I am also reminded of the warmth and friendship of the people of West Virginia which have been demonstrated over the past few months in full measure,” said Gee.
An emergency meeting of the Board of Governors will be called early next week. The Higher Education Policy Commission will also call an emergency meeting.
West Virginia MetroNews reported that the vote to recommend Gee was not unanimous with two members voting against Gee.
Gee told 610WTVN back in December that he wasn't looking to make the move a career.
"I've made it very clear that my goal in life is not to continue to be a university president."
It's not Gee's first stint at WVU. He was hired as president in 1981 at age 36. He stayed until 1985.
"It's always had a very special place in my heart," Gee said.
Gee will be offered a two-year contract, which is mandated by West Virginia law. Dailey says it can be extended after that.
(Photo courtesy West Virginia University)