In announcing the upcoming selection of Mark Coyle as its new athletic director, the University of Minnesota followed the same predilection that got it into the predicament for which it now needs a new AD.
President Eric Kaler’s revelation Wednesday of the current Syracuse director of athletics as the only “finalist” for the position left open after the departure last summer of Norwood Teague because of multiple sexual harassment incidents assures that the choice of the 16-member search committee created six weeks ago will take the helm of the beleaguered program soon.
But Coyle, who passed through the U athletic department a while ago, was not subject to any public scrutiny. The U averted any such oversight by invoking a provision in the Minnesota sunshine laws that negates accountability by requiring disclosure only of “finalists” for any publicly funded positions. The U has a custom of using this loophole, which it helped create, to circumvent disclosure of the candidates for top-level jobs. Indeed, Kaler — like most of his predecessors — was unveiled this way, and that’s how he selected Teague without any public vetting.
The result was that discriminatory episodes in Teague’s past, which probably would have surfaced with some public scrutiny, remained submerged until they manifested themselves here.
Kaler did his best to assure the same shroud of secrecy for the Coyle selection.
When the president unveiled the unwieldy search committee, he promoted its creation as a means to “maintain the sort of confidentiality” that has become the hallmark of the selection process of key university administrators.
Regrettably, in large part it worked that way, except for a few leaks from the committee identifying top candidates, but notably not Coyle himself.
The upshot is that the U clothed the selection process in the same kind of confidentiality that has led it into trouble in the past. Coyle, hopefully, will be more successful than his predecessors and rein in the chaos currently cascading through the Bierman complex.
But the U deserves no credit for failing to learn a lesson from its prior transgressions in transparency and repeating the mistakes of the past.
Marshall H. Tanick is a Minneapolis attorney.