University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague resigned Friday amid revelations that he sexually harassed two female university employees — inappropriately touching both at a university-sponsored event, and sending a slew of graphic texts to one.
Teague acknowledged his actions and expressed concern about his substance abuse in a text message sent to media members.
“At a recent University event, I had entirely too much to drink,” Teague wrote. “I behaved badly toward nice people, including sending truly inappropriate texts. I am embarrassed and apologize for my offensive behavior. This behavior neither reflects my true character nor the values of the University.
“I am extremely proud of our accomplishments during my tenure here, and I don’t want my personal life to impact the University’s reputation. I have taken immediate steps to obtain help with my alcohol issues, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
University President Eric Kaler named deputy athletic director Beth Goetz interim AD while attempting to separate the university from Teague.
“I view this as the action of one man who was overserved [alcohol] and a series of bad events happened,” Kaler said at a news conference. “It doesn’t reflect the culture and the values of the university.”
Teague’s departure comes at a critical time for the athletic department. His signature project — a $190 million athletic facilities village — is $50 million short of a fundraising target to receive approval from the Board of Regents next month.
The village, along with a football training facility and an eventual basketball practice facility are considered vital by athletics administrators to attract recruits, retain coaches and keep Minnesota competitive.
Teague, 49, came to Minnesota in April 2012 from Virginia Commonwealth, where he had been athletic director since 2006. He replaced Joel Maturi and carried a reputation for being a skilled fundraiser, which was considered one of the reasons that VCU had risen to national men’s basketball prominence.
During his three-year tenure, Teague made several high-profile moves, including the hiring of men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino and women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings.
University officials did not provide any timeline or location for the harassment, but provided copies of the texts and redacted documents describing the event.
According to those accounts, Teague connected with the two women, neither of whom are students, at a recent university group dinner. At first, he engaged in seemingly innocent interactions and questions. Later, as he consumed more alcohol, he became aggressive both verbally and physically. A conversation about university sports veered to Teague repeatedly asking one woman why she hadn’t married her boyfriend. Shortly after, he began rubbing her back and poking her waist.
At the same dinner, Teague began texting the second woman, who is married. She had originally given Teague her number to set him up with a friend. Teague called the victim “cute” multiple times, suggesting they have a drink with “no touching,” and went on to say they should go skinny dipping, to which she replied “No,” and “Stop.” When she left the room, Teague followed her, asking whether she had ever cheated or would consider cheating on her husband. When she shook off his advances, Teague began pinching her buttocks and then continued to text, asking if he could perform oral sex on her. He continued with a series of 10 unanswered texts as the woman tried to ignore him and engage with others at the dinner.
Both women ultimately left in the company of others out of fear that they would be followed by Teague.
Teague’s behavior was reported the next day and Kaler subsequently met with Teague. Afterward, in a letter to Teague, Kaler wrote: “I am concerned that your drinking was excessive and impaired your judgment. I requested and you agreed to seek an alcohol abuse screening assessment from a qualified health care professional and share the results with me. If recommended, I expect you will take any additional actions needed to be healthy.
“In addition, you will not contact either of the two women who were subject to your advances either in person or through electronic or other written means unless professionally required. Likewise, you will refrain from making any inappropriate sexual advances, either verbal or in writing, including through social media, text messages or other forms of electronic communication in general in the context of your role as the athletic director.”
Kaler said Friday if Teague had not resigned there would have been a university investigation. Kaler said there would be no severance package for Teague beyond the university paying for three months of health care. Teague could be paid $285 per hour — his salary as athletic director — for up to a month as a consultant during the transition. Teague also will be barred from campus.
“It is disappointing and disheartening to learn about the events that led to [Teague’s] resignation,” Dean Johnson, chairman of the university’s Board of Regents, said in a statement. “The university is committed to fostering a respectful and welcoming environment, and today’s actions are consistent with those values. The board fully supports President Kaler’s decision to accept Mr. Teague’s resignation.”
Goetz, 42, was not made available for interviews. Kaler said he would have more information about the process of hiring an athletic director “within the next couple weeks.”