Teague discusses plans on first day as new AD
MINNEAPOLIS – Norwood Teague looks the part.
Black jacket, University of Minnesota tie, walking out the doors of the building that's now his home base – the man knows how to do a first day right.
He looks the part, and now he needs to learn it.
On Monday, Teague arrived at the University of Minnesota's Bierman Field Athletic Building for his first day as the school's new director of athletics after Joel Maturi stepped down this month. It seems so official, this official first day, but it's just another day of work, albeit in a more permanent location, for Teague.
He's been making phone calls for weeks, working remotely to begin the process of acclimating to the position and building relationships. But phone calls are only a tiny step. Even this first day on campus is just another small move forward, and Teague knows it.
Monday will hold some initial meetings, of course, but Teague will also use the day to take care of logistics like getting the appropriate ID cards and building access permissions. He'll need to move into his office gradually, to do the little things that no one notices but that matter immensely.
"I have a lot of goals in the back of my mind," Teague said. "I can't assume too much right now. I've got to be able to go in and go in very hard and very quickly and evaluate where we are."
It makes sense. It's been less than two months since Teague was hired away from Virginia Commonwealth University, and it certainly takes more time than that to acclimate and familiarize oneself with a school more than 1,000 miles away.
Teague said his initial goals are for his first 100 days. He hopes to meet as many people as he can, to establish relationships and listen, and he warned against any expectation that he'd be making quick decisions.
"I think when you make decisions too early – I've done that before at other jobs – you make mistakes," Teague said. "We're all impatient. We all want to get there yesterday, but really, my two initiatives right away are to evaluate and listen."
From that perspective, the first day can seem a bit less daunting, Teague said. He's aware how these processes unfold, how to move the conversations with donors from simply welcoming him, as they stand now, to garnering financial commitments. He also knows what projects are priorities, especially the master facilities plan, which has been a subject of discussion since long before he took the job.
Teague said he thinks a football practice facility will be a reality. The discussions have already progressed so far, and right now, the biggest challenge is to determine the details, including its size and what it will contain.
He also discussed men's basketball coach Tubby Smith and his contract extension, which Smith said in April was progressing but would not be finalized until the school hired a new athletics director. Now that Teague has officially begun his tenure, questions about that contract will likely intensify, and the new athletics director said that the process is going well.
"I think it's in the 11th hour, and you'll hear more about it here pretty soon," Teague said.
Teague must talk to the legal counsel involved with the process before he discusses specifics, but he said that he understands why the process can become so complicated. There are agents and lawyers involved for a reason, because the coaches need their knowledge and negotiating powers, Teague said. That's just how the process works.
"What happens with these negotiations, you get the bulk done, and then these little things hold you up," Teague said. "And you worry about that they're the larger things, and they're really not."
Teague didn't give a concrete timeline for Smith's extension to be completed, but based on the pragmatic approach he's taking to the initial days of his new position, it might be the first major accomplishment of his time at the U of M. Even fundraising, which he was known for at VCU, takes time, Teague said, and he knows the best way to go about it.
"Fundraising does take time," Teague said. I know that people have said that I've had success fundraising, and that's one reason why I was hired, but it's hard work. You have to create a vision and sell it. It doesn't happen overnight."
Teague is not going to be a one-month or even one-year remedy for an athletic program that's struggled in the recent past. He's upfront about that, without any hollow or hasty promises. And though that might not be the most exciting thing to hear, it is encouraging.
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