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Review finds no 'climate of sexual harassment' at U of M under Teague

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There is no evidence of a "general climate of sexual harassment" within the University of Minnesota's Athletics Department under Norwood Teague, while several additional claims of harassment against the former director were unsubstantiated, an investigation concluded.

The university on Tuesday released results of the investigation into its intercollegiate athletics department in the wake of the August resignation of Teague, after the former athletics director acknowledged he had sexually harassed two university employees at a senior leadership retreat.

Several more complaints against Teague and other senior athletics staff members were made in the wake of his resignation, but the independent review "did not find evidence to substantiate" these allegations, nor did it find that under Teague there was a "general climate of sexual harassment or inappropriate sexual conduct" within the department.

The additional allegations against Teague did identify "some evidence of behavior by Teague that appears to have been similar in nature" to his conduct at the leadership retreat, where his harassment of the two university officials occurred.

The allegations were not from university workers or students, the report says, and because both Teague and the complainants "declined to be interview" by the review team, it could not "fully assess the nature of the conduct."

The review, which according to the Star Tribune has cost the U $690,000, does make several recommendations to tighten up how it deals with sexual harassment, including improvements to harassment training and monitoring, and how it handles complaints.

It will also require future job candidates to disclose in writing any "current or prior instances" where they have been the subject of complaints regarding sporting, equality or Civil Rights violations, or the subject of claims of harassment or discrimination.

On Tuesday afternoon, Teague's attorneys put out a statement that was tweeted by the Associated Press' Brian Bakst.

Other highlights of the report

  • A number of verbal, text and email communications were found involving athletics personnel that were "inappropriate and inconsistent with University policies," but this was "not a regular part of the climate."
  • Teague was not generally observed to "behave in a manner that was flirtatious, sexual, or inappropriate based on sex or gender to AD employees and student athletics." In fact most witnesses "described a positive work environment where men and women were supported."
  • A few reported that Teague and other senior leaders "engaged in limited sexual banter and other communications they found offensive," which was described as locker room talk.
  • Teague did not reveal during his interview for the AD position that in his previous role at Virginia Commonwealth University an internal complaint had been made by a female basketball coach concerning inequitable salary and unequal treatment of the men's and women's basketball teams.
  • The U's vetting process in hiring Teague was consistent with other colleges, and the report said even had the U known of Teague's VCU complaint, it would not have provided "notice that Teague would later engage in sexual harassment."
  • The department also needs to improve how it spends its $100 million budget, with an internal audit finding senior staff spent thousands of dollars inappropriately, charging the U for alcohol, parties, haircuts and dinners.

The Teague timeline

Aug. 6: Norwood Teague resigns as University of Minnesota Athletic Director after acknowledging he sent sexually explicit text messages to two female university employees.

Aug. 11: The U of M's Board of Regents orders an independent investigation into Teague's leadership of the athletics department.

Aug. 13: Amelia Rayno, a college sports reporter for the Star Tribune, writes a column in which she claims she had been repeatedly harassed by Teague over a period of several months, but kept quiet for fear it would harm her career.

On the same day, the two employees Teague harassed identified themselves and said they were "inappropriately touched" by him at a senior leadership retreat.

Aug. 18: U president Eric Kaler reveals that as many as four additional complaints of sexual harassment concerning Teague had been made since his resignation.

Oct. 15: Details of an email sent to Teague during his tenure as AD raising concerns about allegations of sexual offenses among Gophers players are revealed. The email was sent by the school's equality director Kimberly Hewitt, and reveals that one out of several complaints against players had been substantiated.

Nov. 7: Mike Ellis, the U of M's senior associate athletics director, resigns. The Star Tribune reported he had taken voluntary leave after unspecified, anonymous complaints against him in the wake of the Teague revelations, and in his resignation letter said he was "pleased that the university has made no disciplinary findings against me."

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