The new leader of Gophers athletics, at least for the moment, is Beth Goetz, who has remained relatively anonymous to the general public.
So just who is Goetz?
“A rock star,’’ said Brad Stevens, the Boston Celtics coach who praised Goetz’s leadership skills from their years together at Butler when he was the men’s basketball coach there.
Goetz will get the chance to prove her leadership talent after University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler tabbed her as the interim athletic director to replace Norwood Teague. Goetz was the university’s deputy athletic director and senior woman administrator for the past three years.
Goetz, 41, remained out of the public eye during her first day of the job per the request of university officials, but she released a statement and met with coaches and administrators throughout the day. Goetz said that her “focus is on fully supporting [the student-athletes], as well as our coaches and our staff, as we build on that success and keep our athletics department moving forward.”
Kaler said he would conduct a national search for Teague’s replacement but wouldn’t comment further.
Goetz was recruited by Minnesota to be Teague’s second in command in early 2013, her role including overall department planning and assessment and managing the day-to-day athletic operations, plus overseeing student-athlete development, athletic medicine and strength and conditioning, and operating as the administrator for women’s basketball, baseball, rowing and volleyball.
She spent 4½ years at Butler as an associate athletic director and the senior woman administrator before coming to Minnesota.
“It’s an opportunity for her to step into that role and show the public what she’s about and show who she is, and I think she’ll handle it with great dignity and integrity and great respect,’’ Gophers women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings said. “She cares deeply for the student-athletes, and I think she cares deeply about the University of Minnesota.”
Stevens in a telephone conversation Friday said he was especially impressed by Goetz’s demeanor during their years together at Butler.
“That temperament in that job is so important. She just has a great way about her, and she’s really, really thoughtful,” Stevens said. “Beth has clearly been a rock star for a long time. … The No. 1 thing of being a great leader, especially when times get more difficult, is authenticity. And you know what you’re getting from her every day.”
Gophers coaches believe that Goetz, a former college women’s soccer coach, understands their challenges through personal experience. Before her time at Butler, she spent 12 years at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she held a dual role as assistant athletic director and women’s soccer coach.
“She has a great deal of empathy and understanding of what people in this department are trying to achieve,” Gophers volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “I think she knows right from wrong, and she has strong integrity and character and is not afraid to stand up for what she believes to be the right thing.”
Women’s golf coach Michele Redman said Goetz has already earned the respect of the staff. Redman said that Goetz’s demeanor, described by many as soft-spoken yet confident, is a strength in this sort of situation.
Butler athletic director Barry Collier and Alfreeda Goff, the recently retired Horizon League senior associate commissioner, both praised Goetz’s character. Goff, like Stevens, referred to Goetz as a star.
“I think she enables people to be successful,” said Collier, who hired Goetz at Butler. “She doesn’t have an agenda other than accomplishment and having the kind of program that the folks in Minnesota would be proud of. … [When I heard the news today] immediately I thought the Gophers are in good hands.”
Gophers longtime baseball coach John Anderson called Goetz one of the best leaders he’s worked with in his 34 years at the university.
“I trust her leadership,” Anderson said. “I’m hopeful she can help stabilize this situation and keep us on a great path. We’re fortunate we have her.”