Minnesota athletics probe largely clears school

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) University of Minnesota officials had no knowledge of inappropriate conduct by athletic director Norwood Teague before he was accused of sexual harassment, according to an external review released Tuesday.

Teague resigned abruptly in August after two high-ranking university administrators reported he sexually harassed them at a senior leadership retreat weeks earlier. His deputy, Mike Ellis, stepped down in November after being placed on leave in September when complaints against him surfaced.

The review – conducted by an employment law attorney and former federal prosecutor – found no fault with the university’s vetting of Teague before he was hired. The university had been criticized for missing a gender discrimination complaint against Teague when he worked at Virginia Commonwealth University.

It did, however, find that some Minnesota athletes lied to investigators trying to follow up on a sexual harassment complaint. But the review found the general climate in the athletics department ”does not condone or tolerate sexual harassment.”

Federal investigators didn’t find enough evidence to substantiate the harassment allegation, but the review determined otherwise, saying there was sufficient evidence ”to conclude that at least some of the student athletes” violated the university’s sexual harassment policy.

It didn’t identify the sport, but the school’s director of equal opportunity reported in July that her office had received complaints about football players.

The findings were released ahead of a special Board of Regents meeting Tuesday. They include a university-conducted financial audit of the department and the external probe of the department’s culture, hiring practices and handling of allegations of sexual misconduct.

Regents Chairman Dean Johnson told The Associated Press on Monday that school officials hoped the report would detail ”anything broken, improper, illegal. You name it, the whole list of sins.” He said it was an accountability step aimed at rebuilding trust.

”It’s extremely important because in many respects, the Department of Athletics is a very visible face of the university. And in light of what has occurred with the Teague situation and other incidents, we need to gain the confidence of the public back,” he said.

The investigation was conducted by Minneapolis employment law attorney Karen Schanfield and former federal prosecutor Joseph Dixon. They were charged with reviewing all allegations of sexual harassment against Teague, other senior leaders and anyone connected to the athletics department – and what was done about them. They also examined Teague’s hiring in 2012 and why the vetting process didn’t turn up discrimination complaints while he was at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The financial audit was in the works before Teague stepped down but was sped up, with a special emphasis placed on his activities.

Bakst reported from St. Paul. Associated Press reporters Doug Glass and sports writer Dave Campbell contributed to this story.