University President Eric Kaler asked for patience in the process of finding a new leader for Gophers athletics. In reacting to the resignation of athletic director Norwood Teague on Aug. 7, he added it would be a "couple weeks" before information on the search was available.
It appears patience will be the theme of what is expected to be a long hiring process.
"As far as a new athletic director, hardly any discussion has been held," said Dean Johnson, chair of the Board of Regents. "I've hardly talked to the president and board members about it. We're in the 'cleaning the porch' mode right now."
Three weeks have passed since Teague resigned following two complaints of sexual harassment at the university, admitting then to "inappropriate" and "offensive behavior."
Multiple sources told the Star Tribune the process is likely to extend through the football and basketball seasons, leaving interim athletic director Beth Goetz at the helm until at least the spring. The timing of the search occurs during the high-profile fall and winter sports seasons, when current athletic directors and top administrators often don't switch schools.
In the past three weeks, the school has begun the process of hiring outside investigators to look into Teague's behavior, announced over $1 million in raises for four coaches, and once again delayed the proposed $190 million athletics village. Two fall sports have kicked off their seasons, and a prime-time football opener looms Thursday.
If any progress has been made on the search, Kaler declined to comment on it, instead offering this statement: "I have complete confidence in the current leadership within Gopher athletics and our interim athletic director, Beth Goetz. Part of the independent review includes a look at the university's vetting process for candidates, and we will certainly use what we learn there to assist us in guiding our impending search."
The Teague investigation is expected to last between 60 and 90 days, Johnson said. "We want to make sure things are transparent and we're clean," he said. "Then give the department to a new athletic director to lead. ... We want accountability of the Teague era, and I believe [the investigators] will do that."
Goetz, who is also fulfilling her deputy athletic director and senior woman administrator roles, said Aug. 10 that she had no indication from Kaler about how long she would hold the interim role. A letter from Kaler to Goetz attached to her amended contract stated she would receive a 56 percent raise (from $170,800 to $265,800 annually) for the interim promotion, effective through Dec. 31 or "until such time as we are able to complete a national search and a new leader is in place."
Goetz, who was not made available this week to discuss her future, has not said whether she'll pursue the full-time role. The 41-year-old former collegiate soccer player and coach from St. Louis said earlier this month that it's too soon to think about herself as a candidate.
"I started in coaching and got intrigued with administration and there have always been multiple paths," she said. "It's been one possible destination, but not the only one. I have no indication at all [how this will play out], and I'm sure we'll learn more in the coming months, but I have no indication of a timeline."
Some expect Goetz to be a front-runner for the job. Beyond her, however, lies only speculation. Two names mentioned by sources are longtime Gophers baseball coach John Anderson and Gophers senior associate athletic director Dan O'Brien.
"It's humbling that people would mention my name in terms of the athletic director position," said Anderson, 60. "I love this university and I've been employed throughout my life here. … I'm looking forward to whoever the new leader is and taking this athletic program, hopefully before I retire, back on the right path to enjoy some of those glory years we experienced when I was a young kid growing up in Minnesota.
"If I could help them get back on that path, I would sure listen to the conversation."
O'Brien, 52, a former athletic director at Hamline and Concordia-St. Paul, is a popular administrator close to Jerry Kill and the football program.
"It's an honor that some say I would have the skill set to perform those duties," O'Brien said. "At the same time, I have a great job as senior associate athletic director, and I'm more than happy to fulfill whatever role the university would ask of me."
Several donors said they'd prefer someone with Minnesota connections, selected without the help of an external search firm. Kaler told WCCO Radio (830-AM) this week that hiring someone with Minnesota ties would be a consideration, but not the deciding factor. He said that a search firm would likely be used in some fashion.
"The guy they lost is not a big deal to any of us [donors]," said major donor Dick Ames, founder of Ames Construction. "The big deal to us who they replace him with, and we know that's going to take time. I might [give more] if I had more to give and [once we see] who they hire, maybe. That will be a big deal to the boosters."