ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Norwood Teague’s surprise resignation as athletic director at the University of Minnesota prompted outrage at the sexual harassment complaints that brought him down - and questions about the school’s handling of one of the most visible faces of Gopher athletics.
The questions didn’t stop Friday when Teague announced he was stepping down, as more complaints against him surfaced. The university has declined to be specific about the timing of the initial sexual harassment allegations, saying to do so risks identifying the women involved. But it also makes it difficult to evaluate the university’s response.
More information may be on the way, as school officials agreed on Tuesday to launch an investigation into the athletics department, seeking to determine if Teague harassed other women or misspent public funds in the process.
WHAT WE KNOW
Two non-student employees approached school officials to lodge sexual harassment complaint against Teague, who came to Minnesota in 2012 after six years at Virginia Commonwealth. The women said Teague made unwanted advances, asked inappropriate questions and pinched their bottoms and sides. He also sent one woman several lewd text messages, including a request to perform oral sex on her.
After Teague’s resignation Friday, President Eric Kaler said those two instances were the only reports the school received. But soon after, Star Tribune basketball reporter Amelia Rayno published a firsthand account of her own sexual harassment by Teague, saying he groped her, followed her into a cab and sent suggestive text messages after meeting in 2013.
The university now says it is seeking any other victims.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
The university won’t divulge when the two initial reports were lodged, fearing that may provide a start toward identifying the two women. And it’s unclear when Kaler and other school officials first approached Teague.
Together, those dates could show how promptly the university handled complaints of Teague’s harassment - school officials have said only that it was “recently.” But the university blacked out the date of Kaler’s letter to Teague reviewing their first meeting after complaints surfaced, which the school released last week.
Asked by The Associated Press to reconsider, the school declined, saying in a statement from its Office of General Counsel that the date, “combined with information in written complaints … and other publicly available information about these incidents, could lead to discovery of the specific circumstances of the incidents and from that the identities of the reporting parties.”
State law allows certain information to be redacted if an individual “is or can be identified as the subject of the data.”
WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE?
Teague’s troubled history extends beyond sexual harassment.
The Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/1N0Nqun ) that a complaint accusing Teague of gender discrimination followed him from Virginia to the University of Minnesota. That complaint, filed by VCU women’s basketball coach Beth Cunningham, was settled in July 2012 for $125,000, according to records obtained by the paper. The records do not elaborate on the basis of the complaint.
After Teague had settled in at Minnesota, a female employee filed a federal complaint against the school after being fired in October 2012. Former senior associate athletic director Regina Sullivan alleged Teague fired her because she questioned his commitment to Title IX, the federal law meant to ensure gender equity in collegiate athletics. Her case was later settled for $175,000.
An anonymous complaint to the federal government alleging Teague has undervalued women’s athletics has spurred a Department of Education investigation at the school. That investigation is ongoing, the Star Tribune reported.
Board of Regents Chair Dean Johnson said the school’s governing board and Kaler agreed to launch a full investigation at the athletics department. An outside attorney will seek out other possible sexual harassment victims, while an audit will determine whether Teague - or others - misspent any public funds during his three-year tenure.
It’s a needed step to restore confidence in the school’s athletics, he said.
Reading from a prepared statement last week to KARE-TV, Teague said he would seek treatment for alcohol abuse that he said influenced his “inappropriate behavior.” Teague hasn’t responded to multiple phone calls and texts from The Associated Press since then.
But the school isn’t ready to sever ties yet entirely. As part of his resignation, the university left open a one-month window to contact Teague with any questions as interim athletics director Beth Goetz takes the helm. He would be paid $285 an hour if needed.
That arrangement remains in place, school spokesman Evan Lapiska said Tuesday.
“We don’t think there would be a great need for a whole lot of information from him. But the framework is there just in case,” Lapiska said.
Associated Press sports writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.
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