U of M investigated sexual offense complaints against Gopher football players

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The University of Minnesota's athletics program is under the microscope again, with the U confirming it investigated several allegations of sexual offenses by Gophers football players in the past academic year – one of which was substantiated.

Following a records request, the Star Tribune obtained an email sent to former Athletics Director Norwood Teague which raised concerns about several Gophers football players who had been accused of sexual offenses, none of which led to criminal action.

A copy of the email, provided to BringMeTheNews, shows it was sent by Kimberly Hewitt, the school's director of equal opportunity and affirmative action (EOAA).

Her office received two complaints of sexual assault by individual football players, two reports of sexual harassment by "groups" of players, and one report of retaliation.

It was sent on July 17, a few weeks before Teague himself left the athletics department amid allegations he sexually harassed two female U of M directors.

One complaint substantiated and 'responsive action' taken

In a comment given to BringMeTheNews, acting Athletics Director Beth Goetz said that the concerns raised by Hewitt had been fully investigated by the EOAA to discover whether it was part of a "broad pattern" within the football program.

Following the probe, one allegation of sexual harassment was substantiated, and while "concerning behavior by football players" was found in relation to the retaliation complaint, they did not break the university's policy, the email shows.

"One report of sexual assault or harassment is one too many and we took prompt, responsive action to investigate when notified of these reports," AD Goetz said in her statement. "(Gophers football) Coach Kill has a strong track record of dealing with student-athlete issues as soon as they arise."

The statement from AD Goetz said that neither of the sexual assault complaints nor the other sexual harassment complaint could be substantiated after they were investigated "to the extent they could be."

However, the email from Hewitt reveals that these three complaints could not be investigated very far "because the reporting students did not want to go forward with an investigation."

Concern over pattern, extra education discussed

Hewitt is the director responsible for upholding anti-sexual harassment and assault laws in university and its athletic department as detailed under Title IX.

And while only one complaint was substantiated, Hewitt said in the email that "the fact that three of the complaints involved groups of football players demonstrates a concerning pattern of football player conduct that we believe requires responsive action."

She told the Star Tribune that she still had concerns about the football team. Meanwhile Jerry Kill told the newspaper that the substantiated sexual harassment complaint was handed over and handled "by the administration."

Discussions continue to be held between the EOAA and the athletics department as to whether extra education is needed for Gophers players on top of the mandatory classes student-athletes are given on sexual assault each year.

"The Athletics Department holds mandatory educational training for all student-athletes on sexual assault each year," AD Goetz added. "We take any allegations of sexual assault or harassment seriously and investigate all reports."

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