MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota has investigated a series of sexual misconduct allegations against Gopher football players that it says did not result in criminal charges.
An internal university email does not identify the players involved in the incidents, or when they happened.
But Kimberly Hewitt, the university’s director of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, noticed what she called, “a potential pattern that may or may not be indicative of a broader problem.”
“Specifically, EOAA has received a number of Title IX-related concerns involving football players this year,” Hewitt wrote. “2 concerns of sexual assault committed by individual football players, 2 concerns of sexual harassment involving groups of football players, 1 concern of retaliation involving a group of football players.”
The July 16 email was sent to University Athletic Director Norwood Teague three weeks before he resigned on Aug. 10 after admitting he sexually harassed two high-level female university officials.
State Sen. Teri Bonoff, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, says she is concerned about the latest revelations from the university, and why it took so long to become public.
“What’s disappointing to me is that all of this material isn’t released when it happens in a transparent way,” Bonoff said.
The university says it investigated the claims and did not substantiate the sexual assault allegations, but did find evidence of sexual harassment.
Here is the university’s statement:
“We investigated one of the sexual harassment complaints and determined that one football player had violated the sexual harassment policy.
We investigated the retaliation complaint and found concerning behavior by football players, but there was no evidence to substantiate that the players had violated University policy.
We did not investigate the other sexual harassment complaint or either of the sexual assault concerns because the reporting students did not want to go forward with an Investigation.”
Here is Interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz’s written response:
“In her role, the University’s Title IX officer proactively contacted the Athletics Department to initiate discussions on whether reports of sexual assault and harassment constituted a broader pattern.
All of these reports were fully investigated to the extent that they could be and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) did not substantiate any sexual assault allegations. The EOAA Office substantiated one allegation of sexual harassment.
A meeting was held between the Athletics Department and EOAA to determine whether additional educational efforts were needed and these discussions are ongoing. EOAA has independent authority to raise concerns and this is an example of that proactive system.
One report of sexual assault or harassment is one too many and we took prompt, responsive action to investigate when notified of these reports. Coach Kill has a strong track record of dealing with student-athlete issues as soon as they arise.
The Athletics Department holds mandatory educational training for all student-athletes on sexual assault each year. We take any allegations of sexual assault or harassment seriously and investigate all reports. However, under the law and OCR guidelines, we are compelled to protect the identities of any reporting students or others involved in investigations.”