Parker Executive Search defends itself from U of M president's criticism


The firm that conducted the search which led to the hiring of Norwood Teague as the University of Minnesota's athletic director is disputing statements made by University President Eric Kaler indicating the search process was flawed.

Teague resigned Aug. 7 amid revelations that he'd sexually harassed two female coworkers at a senior leadership event last month.

The Star Tribune reports that an attorney for Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search said the firm "respectfully disagrees with any suggestion that its search process was incomplete, or that there is or should be any legal recourse against the firm."

Additional complaints against Teague have surfaced since, including a 2012 gender discrimination complaint that was filed while he was the athletic director at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The school settled the complaint with former VCU women's basketball coach Beth Cunningham for $125,000. The complaint wasn't discovered in Parker's search process.

Last week, Kaler told MPR News that was disappointing, and the university likely would not hire Parker to conduct searches in the future.

It's not the only time recently Parker has come under scrutiny for its thoroughness.

But, according to the USA Today, Parker contends the VCU complaint against Teague was filed in May 2012 – after he had already been hired by Minnesota. The report also notes that the claim was not related to sexual harassment, but rather an allegation that the coach was not treated fairly under Title IX guidelines.

Parker contends that because of the nature of the complaint it would not have been available in public records searches and says Teague did not disclose any internal complaints against him.

"VCU's complaint process is highly confidential. If there was an EEOC charge, that would have been confidential, nonpublic information as well, pursuant to federal law ... Parker Executive Search cannot be faulted for not learning more about a complaint filed internally and confidentially within VCU, or otherwise filed in a confidential context."

The letter from Parker to the university said the firm would like to continue its relationship with the school.

The university is conducting an investigation of the entire athletic department in the wake of the allegations against Teague.

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