Sexually harassing behavior, texts bring U athletic chief's resignation

Norwood Teague
Norwood Teague will not receive a severance package from the University of Minnesota but will be available as a consultant at his current pay, $285 an hour, if needed, according to President Eric Kaler. Here, Teague paused before speaking during a March 2013 news conference.
Carlos Gonzalez | Star Tribune via AP 2013

Updated: 4:06 p.m. | Posted: 9:35 a.m.

Norwood Teague resigned Friday as the University of Minnesota's athletic director amid reports he sexually harassed two U workers.

"At a recent university event, I had entirely too much to drink. I behaved badly towards nice people and sent truly inappropriate texts," Teague said in a statement he read Friday morning to KARE 11. "I'm embarrassed and I apologize to everyone involved."

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Teague said he plans to seek professional help for his alcohol use and take stock of his life.

At an afternoon press conference, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler declined to detail what happened or where, citing the need to keep the confidentiality of those who filed the complaints.

He said, however, that Teague's behavior was sexual harassment and characterized it as "unwelcome sexual advances and verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature."

A redacted transcript of the investigation and text messages released later in the day by the U show the graphic nature of that harassment.

The investigative transcript includes passages where Teague pursues a woman with questions about whether she would cheat on her spouse and repeatedly pinches her buttocks and touches her inappropriately during a university event, to the point where she felt "shaken" and "a little fearful if others had not been there."

Copies of text messages reveal a conversation that began pleasantly but degenerated into Teague asking a woman to let him perform oral sex on her.

Randy Breuer and Norwood Teague
Former Minnesota and NBA player Randy Breuer, left, joined Norwood Teague during a ceremony to retire Breuer's jersey during half-time of a January 2015 basketball game in Minneapolis. Teague resigned Friday as the University of Minnesota's athletic director.
Ann Heisenfelt | AP file

Kaler said Teague was facing greater investigation into the complaints and resigned. The president added that he didn't tell Teague he'd be fired if he didn't quit but that the investigation would have gone forward had he not resigned.

"We terminated the investigation and parted ways," Kaler said, adding the university is not facing any additional legal action tied to what happened. He said this was the first report the U has ever received of sexual harassment committed by Teague.

Teague will get no severance package but will be available as a consultant at his current pay, $285 an hour, if needed, Kaler said.

The university is also providing three months of federal COBRA health insurance benefits at about $700 a month, since Teague's alcohol use is a health issue, he added.

Board of Regents Chairman Dean Johnson said he and Vice Chairman David McMillan were contacted Saturday morning by Kaler and the university's legal counsel and got an initial briefing on the complaint.

Johnson said he was pleased with Kaler's forthright response and quick handling of the situation.

Kaler, he added, made calls to some donors Thursday night and this morning to reassure them and restore any confidence those who might be questioning the management of the athletic department.

Teague took over as the Gophers' athletic director in 2012, succeeding Joel Maturi, after six years in the same position at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Before coming to Minnesota, Teague spent two decades in college sports, working at the University of North Carolina, Arizona State University and University of Virginia.

He made fundraising a priority at the U. His highest profile moves involved the firing of men's basketball coach Tubby Smith and the hiring of Smith's replacement, Richard Pitino.

Teague on Friday said university athletics was in "great shape" and that fundraising to build a $190 million Athletics Village project was going "extremely well."

Kaler said that Beth Goetz, the university's deputy athletic director and senior woman administrator, will step in as interim athletics director while a national search is launched to find a permanent replacement.

Donors giving to the Athletics Village remain supportive and the project remains on schedule, he added.

Two of those major donors agreed.

John and Nancy Lindahl recently gave $17 million to the university, including $12 million earmarked for the Athletics Village. The couple also co-chaired the fundraising campaign for TCF Bank Stadium.

"I'm saddened and disappointed, obviously," Nancy Lindahl said. "But it doesn't deter our commitment to University of Minnesota or Gopher athletics."

She said she talked with several other donors Friday and they don't see this as a reflection on the institution. "The university is not dependent on any one individual," she said.

While Teague was the "face of Gopher athletics, it is the action of one man and doesn't reflect the culture of the athletics department," Kaler said.

Kaler said that he talked to Teague the day after the harassment complaint surfaced. "He indicated to me that this was a bad night."