One result of the so-called resignation of Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague because of sexual harassment is the move pretty much assures that Jerry Kill will be around coaching Gophers football for a long time.
While there is no doubt that athletic directors and football coaches have their disagreements at most every school, the relationship between Kill and Teague was strained. They sometimes went long periods of time, even weeks, without communicating.
One example is that Kill knew nothing about a strong opponent in TCU being scheduled on a home-and-home basis rather than one of the North Dakota or South Dakota schools before it was announced. There also was the situation of Kill’s contract extension, something that was agreed on some time ago and then withheld for some reason.
Minnesota is one of the few schools in the Big Ten where the football and men’s basketball coaches earn similar salaries. The contracts of Richard Pitino and Kill, which hasn’t yet been executed, both called for $300,00 raises. Kill, who ranks eighth in salary among Big Ten football coaches, is paid $2.1 million annually, while Pitino makes $1.6 million.
Despite the distance between Kill and Teague — and thanks to a great job by associate athletic director Dan O’Brien, who communicated with Teague regarding football — the program was able to properly function.
O’Brien did a great job as athletic director at Hamline from 2002-2007 until he came to the Gophers as director of football operations in 2008. He then became senior associate athletic director/football when Dave Benedict left for Auburn, and he would be the No. 1 candidate of the members of the athletic department to be Teague’s successor.
Kill’s thoughts on situation
On Friday, when asked about Teague’s abrupt departure, Kill said: “I don’t know the whole story, but I know some. It’s unfortunate for everybody involved. You just have to move on, and I support the president [Eric Kaler] 110 percent. I have been able to talk to him and you know, we get all of this stuff taken care of today and after that, we’re going to move on.”
Kill wasn’t worried about the situation’s impact on fundraising for the university’s $190 million athletic facilities project.
“The president is going to help us close some deals and get this thing built, just like we said we’re going to,” he said. “We’re just going to move forward together as a team. Beth [Goetz] is going to be interim athletic director, and she will do a great job. I trust her and Dan O’Brien. I think everybody knows how I feel about Dan. So I think we have a good team and we’ll move forward and we’re going to accomplish everything that we set out to do. Again, whoever is involved in the situation, I feel bad for everybody. It’s just too bad.”
The announced reason that Teague was fired was for sexual harassment, but Teague had a serious drinking problem that also cost him his job.
The personalities of Teague and Joel Maturi, the man he succeeded, were as different as night and day, especially regarding the women’s athletic program and its coaches. Maturi was a great salesman and spent time with both the men’s and women’s coaches. Teague was just the opposite. The coaches of women’s sports teams especially had a hard time adjusting to the change.
Maturi did a great job in his public relations with the alumni. Teague, by contrast, didn’t have any relationship with Linda and Dave Mona, one of the greatest couples when it came to relationships with the university. He made few friends during the three years he was here.
Kaler’s plan for department
Kaler, who I believe has more interest in having a successful athletic program than any University of Minnesota president I have known, said the university will move forward.
“We will search nationally for a new athletic director,” he said. “We will bring in a very good person and we’ll continue to move forward. This is an action of a person who made a bad decision, this is not the actions of Gophers athletics.”
When asked about the impact Teague’s leaving might have on the plan to upgrade the athletics facilities, which might be a factor in retaining Kill if ground is not broken this fall as promised by Teague, Kaler said: “The university momentum behind this is high. I have spoken with several members of the Board of Regents who expect us to continue to advance this project and bring it forward on schedule.”
Fundraising had not been a strength of Teague, although $70 million of the $190 million has been raised. Actually, I believe Kill raised more money for football than Teague did.
The word is that several coaches raised issues about Teague’s slow fundraising progress on the athletic village. Kaler didn’t recall hearing any specific concerns from coaches, but he did say the university is resolving the problem of finding a site on which to built a new track.
• It’s unfortunate the Gophers don’t have their 2016 football schedule this season, when they will play their first three games at home against Oregon State, Indiana State and Colorado State and don’t have to play Michigan, Ohio State or TCU like they do this season. They will have to play road games at Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin in 2016, however.
• Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on what he expects out of Sunday’s first preseason game against the Steelers: “We want to look crisp, we want to look sharp and I want to see the things that we have been practicing being taken to the game field. Whether it is techniques or alignments, certain things against people that you really haven’t prepared for and how they react to certain things that they’re not prepared for.”
• Offensive coordinator Norv Turner speaking about tight end Kyle Rudolph, who missed most of last season because of injuries: “I think Kyle’s having a good camp. We’re doing a lot of things with three wide receivers, and those guys are getting a lot of attention based on how our coverages are, but I think Kyle’s getting ready to really have a productive season.”
• Rumors are the new Vikings stadium is going to run way over budget, but Gov. Mark Dayton stands by his statement that it will only be about $15 million over the current projected cost. … The Vikings and MillerCoors recently announced a 10-year deal that will keep them as the team’s beer sponsor.
• Apparently Dave Adelman, the son of former Wolves coach Rick Adelman, will remain an assistant coach next season under Flip Saunders.
• Gophers pitcher Jordan Jess is dominating the Northwoods League with 44 strikeouts in 30⅔ innings of relief and a 1.46 ERA with the La Crosse Loggers.