University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler officially announced that the University of Minnesota will hire Karen G. Schanfield, a partner in the law firm Fredrikson & Byron P.A to lead the formal independent review into the issues related to sexual harassment and the University of Minnesota athletics department. Ms. Schanfield is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and has conducted reviews of allegations of sexual harassment and other employment-related claims against several high-level individuals, including the former Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. She along with her law partner, Joseph T. Dixon who is a former federal prosecutor, will provide a public, written report to the Board and me, consistent with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
President Kaler has also asked Board of Regents Chairman Dean Johnson to appoint a member of the BOR to oversee the review. The University has five key objectives that they are asking Ms. Schanfield and Mr. Dixon to explore. They are:
1. Review and investigate all allegations of sexual harassment against Teague or other senior leaders in the athletics department that come in after Teague’s resignation.
The independent counsel will review and investigate all allegations of sexual harassment against Teague or other senior leaders in the athletics department that come in from any source following Teague’s resignation.
2. Review and address any confidential complaints regarding sexual harassment in the athletics department.
The independent counsel will review all reports that are received through the University’s confidential reporting mechanisms regarding sexual harassment in the athletics department to ensure that all reports are appropriately investigated and reviewed.
3. Review whether the University knew or should have known of allegations of sexual harassment by Norwood Teague, but failed to address it.
The independent counsel will interview athletics department senior leadership and others as appropriate to determine whether there were other allegations of sexual harassment by Norwood Teague and, if so, whether the University knew or should have known of them and failed to appropriately respond.
4. Review the University’s vetting of Teague during his hiring process.
The independent counsel will assess whether our executive search firm and the institution appropriately checked into Teague’s background. This review will involve both interviews and review of all hiring materials and processes.
5. Assess the climate in the athletics department regarding the reporting and addressing of sexual harassment.
The independent counsel will partner with Kimberly Hewitt, the director of our Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office, to assess whether persons who believe they have experienced sexual harassment related to the athletics department are empowered to report it and whether the reports that are made are appropriately addressed.
In addition, Kaler announced that the Athletics Department would be subject to a full audit on its finances. This was allready scheduled as a normal practice and approved by the Board of Regents in June, but will now be accelerated and will now commence immediately with an initial focus on the information most pertinent to the activities surrounding Teague.
Also, Kaler added two clarifications to his statements from his press conference Friday:
Last Friday, during the news conference announcing Teague’s resignation, in response to a question, I said, "I view this as the action of one man who was over served and a series of bad events happened." I regret that very poor choice of words because I cannot state strongly enough that Teague is entirely responsible for his behavior, and alcohol use is no excuse. Sexual harassment will not be tolerated at the University of Minnesota, and his resignation was the appropriate result of his actions.
Also, upon his resignation we announced that, as needed for one month following his resignation, we would pay Teague for his time on an hourly basis if the University needed to consult with him for any matters during the transition. We knew that the odds were slim that we would need to contact him for any information and, since that time, we have assessed our needs further and have determined that we do not have any need to seek any information from Norwood. I’m confident that, under interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz and her team, we can carry forward without any input from Teague.
No one can questions that the University is doing through research into Teague's activities and if any additional misconduct is identified it will be made public. The University is doing its due diligence, and hopefully after the issue of this independent report we can all move on to bigger and better things.