Gophers fundraising official demoted, suspended for sexual harassment

A female employee was subjected to unwanted touching, hugging and inappropriate comments.

An associate director of the Gophers athletics department has been suspended and demoted after it was found he violated the University of Minnesota's sexual harassment policy.

Randy Handel, who was responsible for overseeing the Golden Gopher Fund, was investigated by the U's Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action after a complaint was made against him.

On Thursday, the U confirmed in a statement to KSTP Handel had violated its sexual harassment policy, after an employee complained she was subjected to unwanted touching, hugging and inappropriate comments.

Handel will start a two-week, unpaid suspension beginning on Monday and will also be required to take sexual harassment training as part of his punishment.

Gophers Athletics Director Mark Coyle also announced he'll be demoted, saying he'll continue to support Gophers fundraising campaigns, but "will no longer have superior responsibilities."

"We are committed to taking all appropriate actions any time there is an allegation of misconduct in our department." Coyle added. "We believe we have done this in this instance and will continue to do so, when needed, in the future."

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 is married with two children, according to his U of M bio.

Journalists call on U to drop leak probe

The allegations became a larger source of controversy for the U when the details about its investigation were leaked to KSTP by a member of its Board of Regents, prompting the board to launch an investigation into the leak requiring all regents to sign affidavits saying they weren't responsible.

On Wednesday, a petition from the Minnesota Newspaper and Communications Guild was submitted to the university, calling on the board to drop its probe into the news leaks, the Pioneer Press reports.

The Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists also urged the U to drop its investigation, the newspaper notes.

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