News of a sexual harassment investigation in the University of Minnesota’s athletics department has led to an inquiry of the school’s Board of Regents.
Regents held an emergency meeting Thursday after KSTP published a report that Gophers’ top fundraiser, Assistant Athletics Director Randy Handel, allegedly sexually harassed a coworker. The Board announced it would launch an effort to identify the regent who leaked a memo about the Handel case to KSTP.
KSTP found school officials told regents over e-mail “Handel’s conduct towards (the victim) violated the University’s sexual harassment policy.” KSTP said a regent provided the e-mail “on the condition of anonymity.”
Handel worked under former Athletics Director Norwood Teague, who resigned in 2015 after being accused of sexual harassment.
“Anytime you have allegations like this, inside the University, it’s not helpful,” said Board of Regents Chair Dean Johnson at a Thursday press conference. “I would say to the Gopher fans to be patient with us.”
The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action conducted the Handel investigation.
“I believe that [athletics director] Mark Coyle and his staff have done an excellent job in trying to change the culture,” Johnson said at the conference. “Training has taken place, seminars have been given, people have been asked to be responsible at all levels.”
Johnson said the anonymous regent who leaked the e-mail committed a serious violation.
“It could in fact violate the data privacy act,” Johnson said. “It could constitute even a misdemeanor.”
Outside counsel and experts will conduct a forensic investigation of those with access to the e-mail.
The 12 regents on the board and other employees with access to the e-mail signed an affidavit stating they didn’t share the e-mail’s contents and granting the KSTP reporter permission to reveal their source.
Johnson said at the conference if the KSTP reporter releases information of the anonymous regent, the University will hold the reporter harmless.
“We cannot do business if we violate the confidential privilege of communication that happened last evening,” Johnson said.