Speeches and Writing
Remarks at Athletics Director News Conference
April 23, 2012
Good afternoon and welcome.
I'm Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota.
It is my great pleasure to introduce to you Norwood Teague, the new director of Golden Gopher Athletics pending approval from our Board of Regents, and the person who will lead our athletics program into its next era of integrity, academic excellence, and victory.
Norwood is the real deal and a true professional, with vast and deep big-time college athletics administration and marketing experience in FBS football, Division I basketball, and all the other sports that make for a robust and broad-based athletics program.
The checklist for my ideal athletics leader for Gopher Athletics was long, diverse, and demanding.
- Experience? Check.
- Two decades in administering top-flight programs, with an impressive trajectory to this point in his career.
- Commitment to academic excellence?
- Examine his record at Virginia Commonwealth University and the gains made by student athletes in that program.
- Success marketing in major and sophisticated media markets?
- Lots of it.
- He's established great partnerships everywhere he's been, and Norwood is particularly known within the nation's athletics community for his strong external relations skills.
- Facilities? Check.
- He's gotten them built and upgraded so his programs—major and mid-major—can be very competitive in a collection of highly competitive environments.
- Commitment to gender equity?
- Search committee co-chair Professor Mary Jo Kane made sure of that, as did I.
- He helped transform Virginia Commonwealth's athletics program, surely in men's and women's basketball, and also in non-revenue sports, such as tennis and golf. He believes in a broad-based program, as do I.
He believes in winning, and winning the right way, as do I.
- One other thing:
- Besides earning his master's degree from one of the nation's leading athletics administration programs, Norwood earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, one of the nation's top public research universities, just like the University of Minnesota.
Most significantly, his degree was in political science. Believe me, if there is any job in this community that requires political skills, it is that of Gopher athletics director!
And before I'm asked and he's asked, let me tackle the football issue. Norwood has 20 years of big-time college sports experience. Most of those two decades have been spent in FBS programs.
Football is not new to Norwood. The success of football here at Minnesota—on the field, in the TCF Bank Stadium stands, and in the classroom—is central to the goals I have established for him.
The athletic and financial success of our football program is among his highest priorities.
I will let Norwood speak more to this issue, but I am extremely confident that he is fully equipped, and that he has the capacity—and then some—to manage our entire athletics program, from football to softball, from rowing to wrestling.
Role of Athletics
We know that for many Minnesotans and, certainly, many of our 500,000 alumni, Gopher Athletics and our facilities serve as a front door to—and a window into—the University.
We do many great things on this campus and across our campuses statewide.
Every day at the University of Minnesota we tell many spectacular stories about our students, our faculty, our research, and our community engagement.
So, as president, I want intercollegiate athletics to reflect and reinforce the values of this University: diversity, integrity, excellence, personal responsibility, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a strong commitment to operational efficiency and effectiveness.
I know that Norwood shares those values.
In closing, I want to express my sincere thanks to all 21 members of our search advisory committee, and a big thanks to our four-person search committee, chaired by Vice President Tim Mulcahy, Professor Kane, John Lindahl, and my chief of staff, Amy Phenix.
I want to thank you—our coaches and the entire athletics department staff—for your input and patience, and I'm excited for you that Norwood is your new leader.
I also want to take a moment to thank Joel Maturi for his decade of service as our athletics director.
To our entire University community and to the millions of Gophers fans, I'm very excited to introduce the University of Minnesota's new athletics director, Norwood Teague.