Univ. of Minn. associate AD on leave over anonymous complaints

An associate athletic director at the University of Minnesota is on voluntary leave as officials investigate 5 anonymous complaints, U of M spokesman Evan Lapiska confirmed.

Mike Ellis’ leave comes on the heels of athletic director Norwood Teague’s Aug. 7 resignation. Teague hired Ellis in 2012 as a senior associate athletics director and administrator of men’s basketball and wrestling. Either “independent external counsel or other appropriate authority” will investigate the claims.

The Star Tribune reported the anonymous complaint, allegedly from “senior athletic staff,” was sent to U of M President Eric Kaler about Ellis and Teague on Aug. 10. The complaint says Ellis had pornographic images of co-eds on his cellphone and shared them with Teague and others while the Gophers were in a bowl game in Texas in December of 2012. A complaint was filed the following month and investigated by the U of M human relations department, but was closed with no disciplinary actions. A U of M spokesman confirmed that complaint is related to the same information as the alleged bowl game complaint.

The bowl game complaint says when a member of the Gopher athletic department and Gopher Radio Network Team said they were offended by the images, the U of M administrator was shunned and fired for reorganization.

Teague and Ellis worked together at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ellis began at VCU 1988 as an assistant men's basketball coach. He served as the Rams' top assistant before moving into a role with the VCU Center for Sports leadership in 2002. He became assistant athletics director and from 2003 to 2009 and worked on a number of major gift projects while overseeing the athletic communications office.

Full U of M statement

“Mike Ellis is employed by the University of Minnesota.  Since August 7, 2015, five anonymous reports have been received on the University’s EthicsPoint reporting system in which Mike Ellis is a subject.  Based on content, those reports have been submitted to the independent external counsel or other appropriate authority to investigate. The University asked Mr. Ellis to take voluntary time off, which he agreed to do, while the investigation of these matters was undertaken. Mr. Ellis has been cooperating fully.

There was one prior complaint against Mr. Ellis in January 2013. The status of that complaint is that it was investigated by central HR, there was no discipline, and the matter is closed. Under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, the University may not disclose additional information about the nature of this complaint.”