Norwood Teague resigns as Gophers athletics director

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Norwood Teague has resigned as athletics director of the University of Minnesota following two recent incidents of sexual harassment of two non-student employees. The incidents include explicit text messages, “physical conduct of a sexual nature” and “unwelcome sexual advances.”

This is the first report of sexual harassment involving Norwood Teague.

“While this does not excuse the behavior, Norwood has said he’s seeking alcohol counseling and treatment and hopes it's successful,” University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said, accepting Teague’s resignation at a Friday afternoon press conference.

Teague will receive unpaid bonuses and be paid for unused vacation time, but he will not receive a cash severance. President Kaler said if Teague had not resigned, “the investigation process would have gone forward."

Flurry of text messages

The following is a written statement from one employee regarding an incident of unwelcome sexual advances by Teague at a group dinner:

“During dinner he started to text me. It was initially a fun, back and forth teasing which was slightly flirtatious but felt harmless. Then his texting started to cross the line as he suggested skinny dipping, another drink with no touching, his attraction to me, etc. At this point, I responded, ‘No’ and ‘Stop’. He continued to text. I left the room to go to the bar and he followed and sat down next to me. He asked if I was happily married, if I had ever had an affair and if I would be open to cheating on my husband. He said that I couldn't deny the connection between us. I shook my head and looked for others. I motioned for people to come sit down next to me, which they did and I talked to them.”

Inappropriate questions

“Norwood moved his dining room chair very close to mine, so that I felt quite physically trapped,” a second employee said in a written statement. “We started talking fairly casually about sports at the university and what our future career plans were. Norwood begin to then ask inappropriate questions, such as ‘Why haven't you married your boyfriend?’ and ‘When are you going to marry your boyfriend? At about the same time, he began to rub my back and poke my side.”

President Kaler statement

"Today I accepted the resignation of Gopher Athletics Director Norwood Teague, effective immediately.

"Norwood’s resignation follows the report of two recent incidents of sexual harassment of two non-student University employees, based on unwelcome sexual advances and verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature occurring on the same evening.  I have spoken personally to the employees and expressed my sincere regrets that they experienced this behavior.

"The University has an explicit policy against sexual harassment and a strong code of conduct that articulates the standards and behaviors we expect of our employees. Our senior leaders, in particular, must behave at the highest standards and set a positive example for our students and University community.

"I take allegations of sexual harassment very seriously. The incidents were reported the day after the behavior occurred, and I spoke to Norwood about it the following day.

"Norwood has acknowledged his inappropriate behavior and has expressed remorse for his actions. He has also fully cooperated in our review of this matter and in this leadership transition in Gopher Athletics. While this does not excuse the behavior, Norwood has disclosed that he is seeking alcohol counseling and assistance, and I hope those efforts will be successful. Regardless, I believe his resignation is the appropriate response. 

"I know many of you will have questions about the short- and long-term effects on Gopher Athletics. I understand that and will try to answer those questions as best I can.

"What I can tell you today is that I have asked Beth Goetz, deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator, to step in as interim athletics director, and she has agreed to do so. Beth has had a leadership role in Gopher Athletics for three years as the second to the AD. She joined us from Butler University, where she was senior woman administrator.

"While this is a quick and unexpected transition, I have great confidence in our athletics program, its current direction, and its recent successes. We have a very strong senior management team and outstanding coaches and staff. I am confident this team will help us continue the department’s momentum during this transition.

"We will have more information for you about next steps for Gopher Athletics within the next couple weeks. In the meantime I ask for your patience. I also ask for your continued support of our student-athletes and Gopher Athletics program.

"But today, I want to reiterate my commitment to ensuring a healthy learning, working and living environment at the University for all faculty, staff, and students. While I am deeply disappointed in this turn of events, I am confident that we are proceeding in the right way. Sexual harassment at the University of Minnesota will not be tolerated. We need to be vigilant in our efforts to ensure that those who experience harassment can access the resources available to them and know that the University takes this issue very seriously."

Interim athletics director Beth Goetz statement

“Gopher Athletics has 725 student-athletes preparing for the upcoming academic year. These young men and women have produced positive results – both academic and athletic – in recent years. During this transition and beyond, our focus is on fully supporting them, as well as our coaches and our staff, as we build on that success and keep our athletics department moving forward."