University of Connecticut athletic director David Benedict said he was pulling for Beth Goetz to land the recently filled Gophers AD job. But when Minnesota hired Mark Coyle in May, Benedict had an opening to hire Goetz himself.
Thursday it became official, when Connecticut hired Goetz as chief operating officer for athletics. She'll report directly to Benedict, who spent one year working with Goetz at Minnesota under former AD Norwood Teague.
Goetz took over as Minnesota's interim AD after Teague resigned last August and later announced that she was pursuing the permanent position. After Coyle was hired, she briefly returned to her role as deputy AD.
"I expected Beth to get that [AD] job," Benedict said. "I think Beth is going to be an athletic director; it's just a matter of time. I did not think that I was going to have the opportunity to hire her, but she was definitely tops on my list."
Goetz, 41, kept a low public profile in her nine months as Minnesota's interim AD but received praise for stabilizing the department after Teague resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.
When football coach Jerry Kill resigned for health reasons last October, Goetz oversaw the decision to make Tracy Claeys the permanent replacement with a three-year contract. She also gave longtime baseball coach John Anderson a five-year contract extension in March.
Under Goetz, the Gophers won six Big Ten team titles, and the women's hockey team won another national championship, but the department suffered other self-inflicted wounds. The men's basketball team dismissed one senior and suspended three underclassmen and junior Reggie Lynch was arrested on suspicion of sexual misconduct.
Meanwhile, university police are investigating an alleged drug issue within the wrestling program. Last week, on his first official day on the job, Coyle placed wrestling coach J Robinson on paid leave, pending the university's own investigation into the matter.
Attempts to reach Goetz for comment on the wrestling issue have been unsuccessful. She issued a statement Thursday that said, in part, "I'd like to thank President [Eric] Kaler for the opportunity to serve this great institution and excellent athletic department. It has been a pleasure to work with such outstanding coaches, staff, student-athletes and fans and I am grateful to have been embraced by this Gopher community during my time here."
As Connecticut's COO, Goetz will oversee all of Benedict's internal departments and will serve as the sport administrator for football. It's similar to the job Benedict took when he left Minnesota for Auburn in February 2014.
Teague relied closely on both Benedict and Goetz during his tenure. Benedict came with Teague from Virginia Commonwealth and was Minnesota's deputy AD from 2012 to 2014. They hired Goetz away from Butler to be Minnesota's senior woman administrator in March 2013. When Benedict left for Auburn, Goetz became Minnesota's deputy AD.
"To be honest with you, when I left Minnesota, one of my regrets both personally and professionally was not having the chance to work longer alongside Beth," Benedict said. "When I left, we said, 'Who knows, at some point in time, our paths may cross again.'"
When Coyle was hired, both he and Kaler said they hoped Goetz would stay.
"Those of us fortunate enough to work with Beth have always known her future is bright," Kaler said in a statement. "I am extremely grateful for her commitment to the University and the stabilizing leadership she provided, particularly as our interim director during a difficult past year."
Coyle's statement added: "While I will miss the opportunity to work with her, I am happy for her and we wish her the absolute best in this new role."