U of M president 'gratified' by investigation's findings; proposes changes

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University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler says he's happy with the findings of an independent investigation into the athletics department – but is proposing new steps to make improvements.

The U of M released Kaler's action plan Friday, in the wake of a probe into the tenure of former Athletics Director Norwood Teague. Teague resigned in August after acknowledging he had sexually harassed two university employees at a senior leadership retreat.

The investigation found no evidence of a "general climate of sexual harassment."

In the action plan, Kaler says he is "gratified" by the conclusion, calling it the "most important finding."

But, he continued, they would not have needed to have an external review done "were it not for the totally unacceptable behavior of our former athletics director — behavior that he admitted."

"We must continue to be diligent in recognizing sexual harassment and assault when it occurs, and act quickly to respond," Kaler said.

The investigation did, however, find issues with how some of the department's finances were used and reported.

Kaler's recommendations

Among Kaler's recommendations:

  • A group will review recommendations made about the university's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, and figure out how to merge it with what's going on with the Office of Civil Rights. They'll also decide whether those suggestions should be implemented university-wide, not just within the athletics program. A proposal needs to be completed by Jan. 19, so it can be presented to the Board of Regents in February.
  • The university will change its process for hiring a new athletics director – including looking at the size of the search firm used, who makes up the search committee, and the interviewing and vetting process that should be used.
  • Regarding the financial improprieties, a number of changes are coming. Some have already been instituted by interim AD Beth Goetz, including terminating the relationship with the Villa 7 networking group, and requiring current employees to repay the university for purchases they improperly got reimbursed for. A financial oversight group to keep watch on all this will also be created.

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