The University of Minnesota athletic department made a bold hire in 2012, snagging Norwood Teague as its next athletic director. Just three years later, Teague is no longer the Gophers AD.
After reports of a sexual harassment complaint surfaced against Teague, he abruptly resigned on Friday morning, per KARE-11 in Minneapolis.
“After careful and painful consideration, I’ve decided to leave the University of Minnesota,” he said. “At a recent University event, I had entirely too much to drink. I behaved badly towards nice people and sent truly inappropriate texts.”
“I apologize to everyone involved. This neither reflects my true character or true character of this great, great university.”
Considering the complaint and his admission of sending inappropriate texts while drunk, there is little doubt that resigning was the right move here.
However, this resignation couldn’t have come at worst time for the future of Gophers athletics. Teague was the man who hired Richard Pitino and was in the process of fundraising for the “athletes village” on campus.
It’s a $190 million project that has seen $70 million in fundraising over the past year. No doubt that’s an amazing number, but it is also a testament to the faith a lot of Gopher alumni, donors and fans put in what Teague was building.
Under Teague’s watch, the overall program is as healthy as it has ever been on the field and its standing off it was on the rise as well. The overall student-athlete GPA was an all-time high, while men’s and women’s programs were winning at a clip not seen in a long time (thing pre-WWII era).
A lot of it had to do with Teague spending money to build facilities and get great coaches on board, including a massive contract extension for football head coach Jerry Kill and the splash of the younger Pitino’s hire.
The good news is that interim athletic director Beth Goetz is more than familiar with the big picture plans in the athletic department. She has been in charge of the day-to-day operations of a department with $100 million budget.
However, she is young in the game of athletic administration and will take on perhaps the biggest challenge of her career until/if a new full-time athletic director comes in to place.
The future of the Gophers athletic department depends on the proposed athletes village, and Teague was a major driver of this proposal. Can the university get this proposal through the legislature without him?
It will be the million….err, $190 million question facing this athletic department in the near future. Without those improvements, an athletic department already behind the eight ball in the growing arms race around the country could put itself in an even greater disadvantage without it.
Time will tell if Goetz makes the difference needed to move the athletes village over the finish line.
With Goetz in place during this transition, there is hope for things to get done though. That’s because she was the closest person to Teague in getting this project up and running, as well as the day-to-day operations of the athletic department overall.
Having someone with that kind of knowledge and ability to carry on the status quo within the fundraising and administrative arenas is going to be vital.