As we've already reported, Norwood Teague resigned as the University of Minnesota's athletic director after multiple confirmed reports of sexual harassment. This is one of those nasty situations where nobody looks good. The University doesn't look great but Teague looks far worse.
Norwood Teague's actions meant he had to go. The University was right to accept his resignation and had he not chosen to resign disciplinary proceedings would rightfully been undertaken. The University and the athletic program Teague was running are bigger than one person. If an important person is reckless, careless or abusive with their position then the University should always remove them and move on with someone else.
It is challenging to adequately express dismay and disgust over the actions that lead to this resignation while also recognizing that this announcement comes at an critical time for the athletic department and thus has a potentially major impact that cannot be overlooked. With that in mind let's briefly review what this situation means for the Golden Gophers moving forward.
The biggest impact is potentially on fund raising for the upgraded athletic complex and practice facilities. Shovels have not yet hit the dirt as the U is still technically in the fund raising phase. What does the loss of Norwood Teague mean for the facilities project? It's likely that a little time is needed following this incident before the project publicly moves forward, however President Kaler did indicate that the Board of Regents is going to continue their work on new facilities.
"I've spoken to several members of the Board of Regents and they expect us to continue to advance this project."
As of June it was announced that approximately $70 million has been raised of the $150-190 million project but that for construction to begin short-term financing would be needed to close the gap until the remaining capital is raised. I am unsure how this will affect donors and whether they will continue to give money to athletics in the near-term. Coach Kill might feel agree, as after practice today he said "we got to step up game" in fundraising. While that doesn't sound great, he was also quoted as expecting the process to be completed soon.
I believe that ultimately the ground breaking for new facilities will happen "soon" and that the expected construction will happen. By the time money is need to pay off financing, this will be far in the rear-view mirror and a non-factor in fund-raising. Another successful football season will have a far greater impact than Norwood Teague's actions over the long term.
Richard Pitino and Jerry Kill are both coaches who have biggest potential to be affected by Teague's resignation. Other coaches might be as well, but as the two highest profile members of the wider coaching staff both Pitino and Kill had a lot of engagement with Teague and both had spoken highly of his support.
I'm really not that concerned about Jerry Kill. He has earned the right to be the Gopher's head coach for the foreseeable future and for a new athletic director to come in and want to hire his own guy would be a huge shock. On the flip side it is apparent that Kill had a great working relationship with Teague and part of why I believed Kill would finish his career here is that having that sort of trust and relationship with his AD is something Kill valued. Teague and the rest of the University were strongly in Kill's corner throughout his public battle with his seizure disorder. Teague also tried to continually reward Kill and his staff for the progress they have made. I think Kill will still be highly valued, loyal to the University and I believe he will finish his career here. Should Kill receive interesting offers in any future offseason, I think he'll be more inclined to listen depending on who replaces Norwood. That said, I still have my doubts he would leave.
Richard Pitino is a different situation. Teague took a calculated risk by hiring the younger Pitino who had very little head coaching experience. The young coach has shown some promise and has stayed at the University while being rumored for other openings each offseason. I do believe, once again, that Pitino has stayed in part because of his relationship and trust with his boss. That relationship is gone and there is no telling what kind of trust and respect there will be with the new athletic director. Assuming Pitino has some sort of measurable success this season, I would not at all be surprised to see him taking a job elsewhere.
On the one hand I do believe he and his young family are getting entrenched in their local community. Uprooting is a big deal. Facilities are on the way and there is promise for this program. And taking a lateral job may not necessarily be the best thing for his career. But a new AD may not give Pitino the same leeway that Teague would have and job security is also significant. I don't think Pitino leaving is a certain thing by any stretch, but the chances are higher than they were yesterday.
There has been very real momentum with Gopher athletics over the last couple years and Teague was a key part of what was happening. The football and basketball programs are being given the necessary resources to become successful. Major facility upgrades are on the horizon and there is increased excitement surrounding Gopher athletics. President Kaler made the right move in accepting Norwood Teague's resignation. Now he has to hire the right person to maintain this momentum.