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Minnesota's AD search to use outside firm, 16-person committee

MINNEAPOLIS -- The University of Minnesota will use a 16-person committee to search for and hire an athletic director, one response to the mistake made four years ago.

President Eric Kaler carefully assembled the mixture of faculty members, current and former Gophers athletes, statewide business leaders and one head coach, a deliberation rooted in the debacle that unfolded last year with the resignation of Norwood Teague.

Finalist interviews will be conducted by a group four times as large as the one that sat down with Teague.

Interim athletic director Beth Goetz took over last August after Teague left in disgrace following a report from two high-level university administrators that he sexually harassed them at a senior leadership retreat. Goetz was hired as Teague's deputy three years ago.

"We are lucky to have a woman who's been a good interim AD," Kaler said Wednesday. "She's going to be a candidate for the job, but she is a not a lock for this."

The process will be completed in late spring or early summer.

Kaler expressed an openness to a "non-conventional candidate" but stressed a "need to have some pretty profound knowledge of college athletics" including the NCAA structure, the Twin Cities media marketplace and Minnesota's academic mission.

"Do those people exist? I'm sure they do, and I hope to meet one of them in the next couple months," Kaler said.

One potential unorthodox candidate, former Gophers football player Pete Najarian, a financial analyst who regularly appears on CNBC, has some public support. There will be calls from boosters to hire an alumnus, but Kaler said he doesn't see that as an essential requirement.

New Jersey-based Turnkey Search will be paid $150,000 plus expenses for its work. Gene DeFilippo, a former AD at Boston College and Villanova, will be one of Turnkey's lead consultants on the search. Turnkey recently conducted searches for the AD jobs at Georgetown and Michigan.

The departmental review conducted last year by an outside law firm didn't find major flaws with the vetting of Teague before he was hired, though there was a missed gender discrimination complaint against Teague when he worked at Virginia Commonwealth University. One recommendation from the review was to use a larger committee. Another shift this time, according to Kaler, will be the use of psychological questioning during interviews.

In 2012, after Joel Maturi announced his retirement, Kaler named a 25-member search advisory committee plus a four-person search committee for the process guided by the Atlanta-based firm Parker Executive Search. Then, only the four-member search committee conducted interviews with the finalists.

Teague had a base salary of $400,000. The median salary for Big Ten athletic directors, according to the university, is $750,000.

"I would hope to not need to go there," Kaler said, "but we will need to pay a competitive salary."

The committee will be chaired by Katrice Albert, the university's vice president for equity and diversity since 2013, and Perry Leo, a professor of aerospace engineering who has been one of two faculty representatives to the athletic department since 2009.

The on-campus members are Duke Anyanwu, a junior tight end for the football team; Jeremiah Carter, the school's director of athletic compliance; Emily Hoover, the other faculty athletics representative; Lisa Kihl, an associate professor of kinesiology; and Hugh McCutcheon, the head volleyball coach. Business executives and community leaders from around the state on the committee include Shari Ballard, Kevin Cattoor, Bob Cunningham, Marty Davis, Lisa Lissimore, Deborah Olson, Darrell Thompson, Tom Vannelli and Kevin Warren.

Cattoor is a former Minnesota Twins executive. Carter (football), Lissimore (basketball), Thompson (football) and Vannelli (hockey) are former Gophers athletes. Warren is chief operating officer of the Minnesota Vikings and a trustee of the University of Minnesota foundation.

"This is the list that I believe is representative of all of our constituents," Kaler said. "It is diverse, both in terms of gender and race. It reaches across Minnesota."