University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said he plans to begin a search for a new athletic director after the first of the year and that he’s leaning against using an outside search firm this time.
Kaler shared some insight into his plans after a special Board of Regents meeting Tuesday in which the findings of an investigation into sexual harassment claims against former athletic director Norwood Teague were revealed, as well as a financial audit of the athletic department.
Kaler said he hopes to hire Teague’s replacement by July 1. Kaler appointed Beth Goetz interim athletic director after Teague’s abrupt resignation in August.
Goetz attended the regents meeting, but the university did not make her available for comment afterward.
In a recent interview, Goetz declined to reveal whether she wants to be considered for the job permanently.
“I’m happy to represent in whatever capacity that is,” she said. “When the time comes that I have to make a decision about whether I want to be considered or not, then I’ll do it then.”
The internal audit discovered violations of university policy on spending within the athletic department under Teague. Goetz served on Teague’s senior management staff, but Kaler said he does not believe those cases of misspending reflect poorly Goetz.
“I don’t believe it does, no,” Kaler said. “I have full confidence in Beth Goetz.”
The university paid Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search more than $112,000 in 2012 to assist with its search that ultimately led to Teague’s hiring.
The use of outside search firms has become common in college athletics for coaching and administrative openings as schools look for confidential ways to identify and vet candidates.
The U’s involvement with Parker drew criticism after Teague’s departure because a gender discrimination complaint against Teague at Virginia Commonwealth surfaced only after his resignation at Minnesota.
Kaler told Minnesota Public Radio at the time that “in the search process, we relied on a firm that claimed they did their due diligence and missed this.”
Parker’s attorney responded in a letter to Kaler that the firm “respectfully disagrees with any suggestion that its search process was incomplete, or that there is or should be any ‘legal recourse’ against the firm.”
The Star Tribune reported in August that the university system has paid the Parker firm at least $285,000 since 2007 to find and vet candidates for key positions in athletics.
Kaler indicated Tuesday that he has more expertise in college athletics now so he doesn’t feel compelled to use a search firm.
“I am a much more experienced president than I was when I searched for Teague,” he said. “I have a lot of contacts in the college athletics world now. I’m chairman of the Big Ten board of directors. I think there’s less of a need to use a search firm like Parker than there was four years ago.”
Kaler suggested he’s inclined to assemble his own search committee, presumably made up of different constituents within the university and athletic department. He noted that a broad-based internal committee poses potential problems with confidentiality and scheduling, but he sounded open to that idea.