New Gophers AD Teague to listen and evaluate

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 19, 2012 - 7:11 AM

While Norwood Teague has a fundraising rep to uphold, he says he'll wait on any big changes.

During a news conference on his first official day as Minnesota's athletic director Monday, fundraising guru Norwood Teague joked that he probably would receive his first million-dollar donation that day.

The reality is, fundraising takes time, Teague acknowledged, though he is keenly aware of his reputation. And a major job transition like this should take time too, he said, noting that there wouldn't be any big changes immediately.

"I can't assume too much right now," Teague said. "I've got to be able to go in and go very hard and evaluate where we are."

Teague, who left Virginia Commonwealth and agreed to a five-year contract at $400,000 per year, says he plans to spend the first 100 days of the new job mainly listening to staff, donors and constituents while evaluating the needs of the program before determining any plan of action.

"I think when you make decisions too early -- big decisions -- you make mistakes," he said. "We're all impatient, we all want to get there yesterday, but really my two initiatives right away are to evaluate and to listen."

There are, however, a couple of issues Teague already has his hands on. He has been involved with basketball coach Tubby Smith's potential contract extension and said Monday the deal is "in the 11th hour." The impression that the extension for Smith -- who is heading into his sixth year of the original seven-year deal -- is right around the corner has been one Minnesota has been maintaining for over a year, when retiring AD Joel Maturi was vocal about extending Smith.

"I think it's going really well," said Teague, who said the majority of the extension is complete, and the two sides are now hammering out the details. "What happens with these negotiations is you get the bulk done and then these little things hold you up and then you worry that they're larger things -- and they're not."

Master facilities plan

Teague has also expressed a strong desire to implement a master facilities plan in order to organize priorities and mobilize donors. The North Carolina native was in part hired because of his proclivity with fundraising in previous jobs, particularly with VCU, where he brought total athletic funds raised from $1.3 million in the year before he started to an estimated $13 million for this year.

Although Teague stressed the importance of finalizing the master plan before assigning priorities, he said the desire for a basketball practice facility would be a part of that and "it seems to be one that will be a reality."

As for fundraising -- his specialty -- Teague says he'll succeed at Minnesota as well, if not on the first day.

"I know people have said I've had success fundraising and that's one of the reasons I was hired," he said. "But you know, it's hard work, you have to create a vision, sell it and it doesn't happen overnight."

Although Teague is just arriving in the Twin Cities, he already has spoken with donors over the phone, he said -- conversations that he wants to continue in a blunt manner.

"I don't hear a lot of negative right now but I do need to have frank conversations with people," he said. "If we have frank conversations we'll get to where we want to get a lot quicker, and I tell people that."

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