The University of Minnesota said Monday that former athletic director Norwood Teague failed to disclose that he was facing a gender discrimination complaint at the time he was being recruited and then after he was hired.
The school paid the Atlanta-based firm Parker Executive Search $112,539 in 2012 to find an athletic director and do background checks on leading candidates. Working with Parker on behalf of the U was a four-person search committee and a 23-member search advisory committee.
Teague emerged as the only finalist for the job, and took the position in April 2012.
That search failed to discover that former Virginia Commonwealth University women's basketball coach Beth Cunningham filed a complaint against Teague when he was the athletic director there.
The Star Tribune reported last week that VCU paid Cunningham $125,000 in July 2012 to settle the complaint, which was filed earlier that year.
The University of Minnesota said in a statement that Parker assured the school "that it had no knowledge of any illegal or inappropriate behavior concerning a candidate's history or current employment."
"With respect to Teague," the statement continued, "specifically, as the committee's recommended finalist, Parker conducted a full, thorough, and comprehensive background check that included a criminal check, references, credit check, and local and national media reviews for any potentially controversial areas of concern."
Teague resigned on Aug. 7 after he was accused of sexually harassing two co-workers. Teague did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
The U said as part of Parker's background check the firm asked candidates to "to disclose in writing any potential issues of controversy or concern that the University of Minnesota should be aware of" and that Teague "signed a statement indicating no such issues exist."
"Neither members of the search committee nor anyone else at the University were alerted to any complaint against Virginia Commonwealth University through this disclosure, and the University does not know whether there was any complaint against VCU at the time of the search," the U said.
Parker's president, Laurie Wilder, told the Star Tribune on Monday that she would not comment on the company's background check of Teague, but said candidates are asked to disclose "any potential areas of controversy or concern."
The U said that it didn't learn of the VCU complaint until December 2012, a few months before former Minnesota senior athletic director Regina Sullivan filed a federal complaint against the U accusing Teague of gender discrimination and made a reference to the settlement paid at VCU.
The U said that when it learned of the VCU settlement, the university's general counsel contacted a VCU attorney to get more information. That attorney told the University of Minnesota that no information could be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement.
"The VCU attorney gave no indication of any concerns about Teague and, in fact, was highly complementary [sic] of him in the conversation," the U's statement said.
The U paid Sullivan $175,000 in November 2013 to settle her complaint.
University of Minnesota schools have paid Parker Executive Search at least $285,521 since 2007 to investigate candidates for prime positions in athletic departments, records released Monday show.
Among those were Jerry Kill, when he was hired as the U's football coach in 2010, and Josh Berlo, when the University of Minnesota Duluth hired him to be that school's athletic director in 2013.
Berlo came under national scrutiny when he did not renew the contract of women's hockey coach Shannon Miller, who had won five national championships.
The U signed a contract with Parker in 2007 for $80,000 to find a football and basketball coach. A spokesman said the U does not have records on how much was actually paid to the search firm.
The candidates that were eventually hired for the positions, Tim Brewster and Tubby Smith, have since been fired by the U.