Coffman Memorial Union is the student activities center at the University of Minnesota. On a walk through Coffman late Friday morning, there were several placards trying to provide education on sexual harassment and the evils of violence against women.
There seems to be no greater challenge for colleges these days than what to do to eliminate these behaviors. Many of the high-profile cases have involved athletes, with some Florida State football players recently in the spotlight for several incidents of violence.
The emphasis on getting male athletes to stay away from this behavior should increase the university’s embarrassment over what took place in leading to Norwood Teague’s resignation as athletic director.
Teague’s resignation was turned in Thursday and the news surfaced Friday. Teague made an on-camera statement confirming his resignation to KARE-11’s Jana Shortal early Friday, and university President Eric Kaler made it official at a noontime news conference.
It was accompanied by the university’s release of lurid text messages authored by Teague at a university function last month. Teague said this occurred on a night he became drunk, and Kaler used the term “overserved” to describe Teague’s condition.
I’m an alcoholic. I last had a drink in 1981.
Even though Teague and Kaler both said alcohol wasn’t an excuse, that’s what they were doing by repeatedly mentioning Teague’s consumption.
My view: Alcohol gives you the bravado to be the jerk you want to be. That’s what Teague wanted to be that night, an aggressive harasser of women, and alcohol helped get him there.
One lesson Kaler might now share with Robert Bruininks, his predecessor as university president, is this:
If you’re making a high-profile hire in athletics and a candidate seems too smooth and charming to be true, he probably is exactly that.
The circumstances of the departures are different, but the salesmen qualities of Tim Brewster, the failed football coach, and Teague, the humiliated athletic director, aren’t that much different.
Bruininks signed off on Brewster as the replacement for Glen Mason in January 2007, after Coach Brew managed to buffalo athletic director Joel Maturi and other members of Bruininks’ administration.
Disaster on the football field resulted.
Kaler hand-picked Teague as Maturi’s replacement in 2012. He was a graduate of North Carolina and was serving as the athletic director at Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond.
Teague came off as a southern gentleman, a bachelor who could sell anything, including himself. I enjoyed dealing with him, because Teague would include information in his verbosity.
That said, there was a strong hint of arrogance when Teague and his basketball man, Mike Ellis, decided to fire men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith after their first season (2012-13) on the job — a season that included Tubby beating UCLA in an NCAA tournament opener.
If an AD who had been around a while had sacked Tubby, it wouldn’t have seemed as bold. There was a different “we’re the smartest guys in the room” quality to Teague and Ellis reaching the decision on Smith so quickly.
The search for Tubby’s replacement carried the same arrogant vibe — one candidate was told Teague and Ellis wanted to help select the assistants — and the Gophers received enough “no thanks” responses to wind up with choice No. 5 or 6 in Richard Pitino.
There has been jockeying for power in the athletic department since Pitino was hired in April 2013. It revolved around which facility would come first: Jerry Kill’s for football or the long-discussed building for men’s and women’s basketball.
Kill is no saint in this. He wants everyone to clear the decks and accept that football is king — that he gets first call on everything. Teague was as interested in taking care of Pitino.
Fortunately for Kill, he has Kaler in his pocket and could go over Teague’s head whenever required, including an upcoming $300,000 raise on top of the $900,000 boost he received in 2014.
Teague’s departure makes Kill more powerful than ever. Bet on this: Any candidate hoping to replace Teague should learn to curtsy upon meeting the football coach.
There is a person who would be exceptional, although he’s not likely to accept being fully deferential to Kill:
Craig Thompson, the commissioner of the Mountain West Conference. He’s a University of Minnesota graduate and an administrator who would fit in that gap between Teague, a huckster, and Maturi, a hickster.
Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500. firstname.lastname@example.org