University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler announced Norwood Teague’s resignation last week by repeating Teague’s assertion that he had one bad night after being “overserved.”
Still believe that premise, Mr. Kaler?
Of course not.
Thanks to the courageous revelation by my colleague Amelia Rayno, we now know that Teague’s deplorable behavior against women wasn’t just an alcohol-fueled isolated incident — as if his consumption that night or his drinking problem should in any way provide cover for his warped sense of decency.
As Gophers athletic director, Teague engaged in multiple acts of sexual harassment against multiple women.
We still don’t know the depths of Teague’s actions or whether any other women experienced the same kind of treatment as the two unidentified university employees and Rayno, the Star Tribune’s college basketball writer who chronicled her own first-person account.
We don’t know those answers. Yet.
The university needs to start digging immediately, moving heaven and earth until the whole truth surfaces. Kaler indicated in a statement to the Star Tribune in response to Rayno’s report that the school will launch an investigation.
“With this latest report,” Kaler said, “we will look into whether any university employees who have a responsibility to report these kinds of concerns were aware of the incidents.”
Their investigation must be exhaustive, starting with Teague’s arrival in 2012. Did the school consider the possibility that this wasn’t an isolated incident, that there might be more victims of his harassment? If not, the university took an incredibly naïve approach in addressing the problem.
In cases like this, we often learn that the perpetrator engaged in a pattern of such behavior. That should be the crux of the U’s investigation.
Officials need to find out who knew what. They need to comb through Teague’s e-mails, text messages and cellphone photos to see if they can find a pattern.
They need to interview every member of his management team and all the cronies he brought with him from Virginia Commonwealth University to Minnesota and comb through their e-mails, texts and photos, too.
As best they can, they must determine if anyone knew anything or had even a hint of Teague’s boorish conduct toward women in public or private settings.
Did his actions come as a shock to those closest to him? Maybe.
Or did individuals know something and turn a blind eye? That’s what the university needs to uncover.
If an investigation discovers that anyone in a position of authority knew about Teague’s behavior, those individuals should be punished.
The university must inspect closely and discipline harshly to demonstrate its commitment to doing what’s right.
Here was Kaler’s response at his news conference on Friday when asked whether the school ever received any informal reports about Teague’s drinking issues:
“People talk. There are rumors all the time about lots of people, so I’m not going to go down that walkway with you.”
Well, put on your shoes. It’s time to start walking.
In terms of choosing Teague’s replacement, Kaler needs to sit this one out. Mistakes happen in any hiring process, especially if a person’s deepest character flaws don’t come to light in vetting a candidate. But the fact remains that Teague was Kaler’s choice and that decision now looks horrendous.
For once, university officials also should resist the urge to pay an out-of-state search firm to do the legwork. They shouldn’t need that resource.
Here’s my suggestion for a five-member panel that could interview and make a recommendation for the next athletic director:
Influential alum Lou Nanne; Board of Regents Chairman Dean Johnson; longtime baseball coach John Anderson (if he’s not a candidate for the job); former women’s hockey star Rachel Ramsey; former football star Darrell Thompson.
No one has more connections, savvy, experience, passion or knowledge of the inner workings of the athletic department than that group. They would make a smart choice.
The university shouldn’t rush this hire, even if that means keeping interim athletic director Beth Goetz in charge for this school year. The important thing is that they make the right choice.
The first step is to figure out the extent of Teague’s behavior so that everyone has a complete picture. He didn’t just have one bad night, and it can’t be blamed on being extremely intoxicated.
The university has a responsibility to find the scope of damage he inflicted before it can truly move forward.
Chip Scoggins firstname.lastname@example.org