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Accusations and leaks: Gophers athletics is embroiled in more controversy

It centers around an accusation of sexual harassment against an associate athletics director.
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The University of Minnesota recently launched a sexual harassment investigation into a member of the Gophers athletics department, and officials are distressed details of the case were leaked.

KSTP reported Wednesday night the Gophers' associate director of development was being investigated over a claim he sexually harassed another athletics department employee. The TV station obtained a leaked email sent to members of the Board of Regents, detailing the allegations.

That leak prompted a closed-doors meeting Thursday, as the Board of Regents launched an official inquiry into how the information got out there. The regents called on each of the 12 board members, as well as any university employee who saw the memo, to sign an affidavit stating they did not leak it to the media.

Board of Regents Chair Dean Johnson said the board has a duty to "act professionally and ethically and to maintain privacy and other legal expectations," adding that the person who leaked the memo "may have betrayed the public's trust."

“That’s why members of the Board believe strongly that we need to investigate any potential leaks of private and confidential information,” Johnson said. “We will get to the bottom of this and take necessary action as we become aware of the facts.”

The U also said it will not hold KSTP responsible if the station releases the identity of the leaker, who Johnson says could have violated "the data privacy act," MN Daily reports. The TV station rejected this offer.

As for the sexual harassment claims, U of M spokesperson Chuck Tombarge said in a press statement: "The University takes very seriously any accusations made against any of our employees. However, as is the case in any private personnel matter, the University cannot discuss the details of the current situation."

More on the memo

The memo said the associate director, identified as Randy Handel, had been investigated by the U's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action following a complaint made by an athletics department worker. The EOAA issued its preliminary findings on May 3, KSTP notes.

Handel has not been criminally charged, and the details of the allegations are unknown. GoMN chose to name him as he's a public employee (meaning his salary is paid by taxpayers) in a high-profile position at one of the state's largest universities.

Handel was promoted to the associate athletic director position in 2013 by former Gophers AD Norwood Teague, who himself left under a cloud amid allegations of sexual harassment. He's responsible for the "day-to-day development operations" in the Golden Gopher Fund, which includes all fundraising activities, his U of M bio says.

He's currently on leave.

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