College athletics: More complaints about Teague surface

By Marcus R. FullerSt. Paul Pioneer Press ST. PAUL -- The University of Minnesota has received additional sexual harassment complaints against former Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague, university President Eric Kaler told Minnesota Public...

Norwood Teague

By Marcus R. Fuller
St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL - The University of Minnesota has received additional sexual harassment complaints against former Gophers athletics director Norwood Teague, university President Eric Kaler told Minnesota Public Radio on Wednesday morning.
Kaler wouldn’t specify the number but said there were “less than five” new cases being investigated by the university and the outside legal counsel hired to examine the situation in the wake of Teague’s Aug. 7 resignation.
Two members of Kaler’s senior leadership staff and a Minneapolis sports journalist previously complained about being sexual harassed by Teague, who apologized for his behavior.
“We have received a small number of additional complaints since he came forward,” Kaler said on MPR. “We’re in the process of investigating those and we will ask the external counsel that we brought on board to also look into them.”
The school later released a statement about “complaints or charges against Norwood Teague,” saying they will be reviewed by the “outside counsel in charge of the independent review,” Minneapolis-based attorney Karen Schanfield.
“Not all reports allege the same conduct, but the University cannot provide further information about their contents,” the school said in its statement. “In fairness to those who have reported and others who may do so, and to not jeopardize the external review, the University will not be commenting further.”
Kaler opened the interview with MPR’s Cathy Wurzer by saying he was “angry, disappointed and disgusted” that Teague let him and the university down.
Teague, who was hired from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012, sexually harassed two of his colleagues during a senior leadership retreat July 15 in Breezy Point, Minn. The victims brought their complaints to the university the next day.
On Wednesday, Kaler was asked if the university needed to change its policy about mixing business with alcohol after this incident. Kaler pointed out that this was a case of one individual with a “long-standing problem” getting drunk and misbehaving.
“The vast majority of people behave responsibly,” Kaler told MPR. “You have a glass or two of wine with your dinner. I think that’s OK. But clearly this is a situation in which he harassed two of my senior leaders. But that’s not just the alcohol. The alcohol may have enabled him? I don’t think so. I think this was a long-standing problem. The previous history shows this wasn’t the first time.”
During the Aug. 7 news conference announcing Teague’s resignation, Kaler said there were rumors about Teague having issues with alcohol, but he said he didn’t want to speculate. Responding to a question on MPR, Kaler said he had no concerns about Teague before the senior leadership retreat.
“I trusted him to manage Gophers athletics for us,” Kaler said. “He was out raising money. He was out recruiting coaches, and I didn’t see, nor did people tell me, about issues that might have preceded this. There’s always 20-20 hindsight, but I was surprised.”
After Teague’s resignation, it was reported that settlements totaling $300,000 were paid to former VCU women’s basketball coach Beth Cunningham and former Gophers senior associate AD Regina Sullivan for gender discrimination.
The U released a statement that it was unaware of the VCU settlement until December 2012, eight months after Teague was hired, when Sullivan included the information in her complaint against Teague.
Kaler said Wednesday he supported Teague replacing Sullivan because he hired another senior woman administrator. Beth Goetz is now the interim AD and is a candidate for the permanent position, Kaler said.
Parker Search Firm received $112,000 from the U in the search for Teague. But it didn’t uncover the VCU gender discrimination complaint. Kaler said the university relied on Parker to do background checks, “and they missed this,” he said Wednesday.
“It’s not clear if we have any legal recourse against them,” Kaler said of the search firm. “We’re certainly looking into that. But their view is that this was not publicly viewable information. That may well be true.”
In hiring his next AD, Kaler underscored that the university needs to perform its due diligence as much as it “legally can” after making a mistake with Teague.
“In this case, we had a guy who didn’t disclose,” Kaler said. “And you know, whether he had those problems before and didn’t disclose them, whether this developed recently, is hard for us to know. But I guess all I can say is we’re going to continue to ask hard questions and we’re going to vet them as thoroughly as possible and look under every rock.”
The Pioneer Press is media partner with Forum News Service

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