Beth Goetz put in a full day of work on her first official day as interim athletic director for the University of Minnesota on Monday, meeting with administrators, donors, coaches, athletes and the media.
“How was your first day of practice?” Goetz asked the Gophers women’s volleyball players lining up for dinner in the club room overlooking the Sports Pavilion.
After the volleyball team got its chance to interact with the department’s new leader, Goetz was off to a women’s soccer team function to sit on the “hot seat” where she would field questions from the student-athletes.
“Friday was the start of it. But in terms of turning from ‘Hey, let’s deal with what’s in front of us,’ to ‘Let’s go forward,’ that started today [Monday],” Goetz said. “We’ve got great and exciting things coming up. … We’re going to fervently go after and finish the athletics village project. We’ve got a little more fundraising to do, and we’re excited and passionate about what that’s going to mean for our athletic department.”
Goetz showed off humor, humility, confidence and empathy while answering an array of questions in her first day following Norwood Teague’s resignation amid sexual harassment reports on Friday and Monday’s first-person account by Star Tribune reporter Amelia Rayno that she was sexually harassed by Teague.
Despite being the department’s No. 2 in command over the past three years, Goetz denied knowing about any of Teague’s inappropriate behavior. She directed questions about any pending investigations to university President Eric Kaler’s office and said any further examination of the department would be handled by the president’s office.
“It’s a shock and surprise and you’re disappointed. You’re really disappointed,” Goetz said. “Your mind races a little bit any time you go through something like this, and you feel for everybody involved.”
The university had indicated when he resigned that Teague would be used as a $285-per-hour consultant during the transition. Goetz said that “only in a rare situation” would Teague serve as a consultant.
Goetz took an active role at the first official day of football practice on Saturday and has spent time outside of meetings and practices on the phone and meeting with donors and foundation leaders.
Goetz explained the importance of continuing to build a relationship with football coach Jerry Kill and said the athletic department is committed to Kill and men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino.
Kaler hasn’t placed a timeline on her interim status nor has he indicated when he might start the search for Teague’s replacement. Goetz also said it’s too early to consider any athletic staff changes and that she’s confident with the leadership that is in place.
She declined to say whether she would be a candidate for the permanent job.
“I’m happy to serve the university any way I can, and if that’s in this role or if [men’s hockey coach] Don Lucia decides he needs an [operations] person I’d consider that, too,” she said. “I’m really just focused on doing what they’ve asked me to do at this point.
“I’m sure the president will share more certainly in the coming months, but I have no indication of the timeline [for finding a new athletic director].”