School leaders announced the members for a 16-person committee and search firm on Wednesday to narrow down a list of candidates for the University’s athletics director position.
The committee includes local business leaders, four former Minnesota athletes as well as one current athlete and coach. Katrice Albert, the University’s vice president for equity and diversity, and Perry Leo, professor of aerospace engineering and faculty athletics representative, will serve as co-chairs.
The University will pay $150,000 plus expenses to New Jersey-based Turnkey Search, which specializes in sports executive searches. The firm recently helped the University of Michigan and Georgetown University in searches for new athletics directors.
At a press conference Wednesday, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said the committee will conduct interviews and recommend a list of finalists to him.
Kaler said he hopes to have a short list of candidates by late April or early May and make a hire by late spring or early summer.
“We will apply an enormous amount of diligence in the committee,” Kaler said Wednesday. “They know this is an important hire for the University.”
Kaler said he received several hundred nominations for the committee and had eight search firms reach out to the University of Minnesota.
The search comes at an important time for the athletics department, with a $166 million Athletics Village project underway. At the press conference, Kaler admitted that some donors are hesitant to contribute until a new athletics director is hired.
The school’s three revenue sports — football, men’s basketball and men’s hockey —are also all coming off of down seasons.
“This is a challenging job,” Kaler said. “A lot of people to satisfy, a lot of moving parts, a lot of things that can go wrong. And a lot of opportunities for success and good outcomes for the institution and the individual.”
The previous athletics director, Norwood Teague, resigned after he sexually harassed two colleagues.
A known candidate for the position, interim athletics director Beth Goetz, said she would officially seek the position.
Since taking over the department in August, Goetz signed Tracy Claeys to a three-year contract as the University of Minnesota’s head football coach, gave baseball coach John Anderson a contract extension through 2021 and hired Ayo Taylor-Dixon as a senior associate athletics director.
“We are lucky to have a woman who’s been a good interim athletics director,” Kaler said. “But she is not a lock for this, and we are going to search aggressively for the best person.”
Kaler said an external review of the department released in December recommended the University of Minnesota use a larger committee during the hiring process. Kaler also said the University of Minnesota will use psychological tests in the hiring process, which it did not use last time.
Kaler said he estimated the committee will meet four to six times before it recommends a list of candidates. He said his top question for candidates will be their priorities.
“I want someone who’s absolutely dedicated to the welfare of our student-athletes,” Kaler said. “I want somebody who absolutely is not going to cheat, that is absolutely not going to cut a corner or turn the other way on a recruiting slip-up or an academic slip-up. That’s not who we are.”