It is unlikely that Beth Goetz expected to the acting Athletic Director at the University of Minnesota. Even more unlikely that she would have to deal with a Title IX investigation and the resignation of Jerry Kill. Nonetheless, Goetz has performed well so far, and her background and skills make her a strong candidate to be the permanent Athletic Director.
President Kaler has indicated that finding a new Athletic Director is the most important priority for the department, even before hiring a new football coach. On the one hand, this seems odd. Football is the most important sport for the U, and there are a number of recruits waiting to see who will be the new coach. Perhaps as important, the recruits will also wonder about the longevity of their recruiters and position coaches.These are good points, but they are shortsighted.
Absent a permanent AD, football coaches will be wary of taking the job. Being a football coach at a Power 5 university is about politics as much as X's and O's. Coaches need to believe that the Athletic Director supports them, which would be difficult if the Athletic Director that hires them is different than the Athletic Director they end up working under. For Minnesota, in the midst of a major fundraising campaign, permanency at the top is essential for trust. Lest we forget, the University of Minnesota is a public institution, and any hiring process will have to go through procedural checks.
Why Goetz then? After all, there are likely many qualified applicants. I have never hired an athletic director (or anyone for that matter), so am being the definition of a blogger when I make this statement. Even so, I think that if Goetz wants the job, she should be considered the top candidate for three reasons. First, Goetz has the necessary experience to be successful in the job. Second, Goetz has an in-depth understanding of the department and the its challenges. Third, Goetz has the necessary demeanor to face the upcoming challenges to the department.
Goetz came to the University in March 2013. Prior to her arrival, she was an associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at Butler University. Basketball at Butler is like football everywhere else, so Brad Stevens opinion that Goetz is a rock star should carry some weight. The same word was used by her boss Barry Collier and the woman who hired her, Alfreeda Goff, the recently retired Horizon League senior associate commissioner. In Jason Gonzales's article for the Star Tribune, Collier is quoted as saying
I think she enables people to be successful," said Collier, who hired Goetz at Butler. "She doesn’t have an agenda other than accomplishment and having the kind of program that the folks in Minnesota would be proud of. … [When I heard the news today] immediately I thought the Gophers are in good hands.
Current and former employees speak to her competence, integrity, and skill set. That skill set is sorely needed for a department reeling from scandal and beset with multiple challenges. Here too, Goetz's experience would serve the department well. At Butler, she was responsible for all aspects of compliance and eligibility, and oversaw Title IX reviews.
Continuity in the department is an underrated quality. Here, I should note that Goetz's lack of knowledge about Teague's behavior may or may not be problematic. Should she interview, I hope there will be she will be posed tough questions. Still, it is clear that Goetz both understands the challenges facing the department, and what her role needs to be to meet them. She has consistently spoken about her first priority being closing fundraising on the new athletics village. Goetz has been visible at football practices, and discussed the importance of building a relationship with the football program. I expect that to continue in her role as an interim, and beyond if she is hired.
Goetz has received rave reviews from inside the department. Hugo McCutcheon, John Anderson, Marlene Stollings, and Michele Redman have all gone on record about her character and demeanor for the job. Indeed, it's difficult to find any quote about Goetz that does not heap praise on her abilities. Necessary skepticism says that people are unlikely to speak ill of a former colleague in public, but the degree of continuity between praise is indicative of her competence.
The most important quality in administrators are competence and leadership. Goetz's experience speaks to her competence. Those who have worked with her speak to her leadership skills. Should she want the job, it is hard to believe there will be a better candidate.