Teague scandal shocks friends, peers

Charges of sexual harassment against Norwood Teague at the University of Minnesota led to his abrupt resignation last week as athletic director.

Teague, a Raleigh native, apologized for his “offensive behavior.” He said he had a problem with alcohol and pledged to seek professional help.

The charges came as a jolt to some of Teague’s friends and peers. Teague, 49, was athletic director at Virginia Commonwealth before being hired by Minnesota in 2012 and also spent five years as associate athletic director at North Carolina.

“He was a dedicated, hard-working person who seemed to have his values in the right place,” former UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said Tuesday.

But Teague’s image and reputation have been stained by the recent complaints. Two University of Minnesota employees said Teague sexually harassed and groped them, and one said she received sexually explicit texts from Teague.

Amelia Rayno, a reporter with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune who covers Minnesota athletics, also accused Teague of sexual harassment.

The Star-Tribune reported Tuesday that Teague, while AD at Virginia Commonwealth, faced a gender discrimination complaint in 2012 from former women’s basketball coach Beth Cunningham. The complaint was settled for $125,000.

No complaints were made against Teague at UNC, according to his university public personnel file. Teague, a 1988 UNC graduate, handled the Tar Heels’ sports marking and multimedia properties from 2001-2006.

“There were never any issues raised at all — not a hint of one,” Baddour said.

Baddour said he was spoken with Teague since his resignation Friday. So has former N.C. State athletic director Todd Turner, a Raleigh native who is Teague’s first cousin.

“I truly regret this for the women who were involved,” Baddour said. “I regret it for Norwood, as well. He was well-liked, well-meaning. To me, he was a value-oriented person, so I’m terribly disappointed. I am shocked.

“It’s a tough time for him, but there is no excuse for what’s gone on. Obviously he has an alcohol issue to deal with, but acknowledging it is no excuse. … I hope he has gotten the courage to get his life together.”

Teague sought to emulate Turner, who was AD at Connecticut, Vanderbilt and Washington in addition to N.C. State. Said Turner, “He followed the path I took.”

Turner, like Baddour, has been a mentor for Teague at times. In the past few days, he said he has tried to be supportive.

“I think he has been forthright in dealing with where he is with his life,” Turner said Tuesday. “Can he get back on a college campus? I don’t know. We’ll see how he reacts to this. I am proud of him standing up and saying, ‘I have issues and I need to get my life straight before I worry about my career.’”

While not justifying Teague’s actions, Turner said the demands on an athletic director at a major university are many and that having a supportive family away from the job helps ease the pressure of those demands. Teague is not married.

Teague could not be reached Tuesday for comment and has not spoken to the media since his resignation.

In an interview with The News & Observer during a visit to Raleigh last year, Teague talked of playing football at Athens Drive High and his desire to get into athletic administration.

Teague, a quarterback at Athens Drive, said he briefly considered playing Division III football but followed family tradition by going to UNC. He was an intern in UNC’s sports information office, then later coached and taught in high school.

Teague earned a graduate degree in sports administration from Ohio University and was an assistant AD at Virginia and Arizona State before being hired by Baddour at UNC in 2001. As athletic director at VCU, Teague brought in Shaka Smart as men’s basketball coach — the Rams reached the NCAA Final Four in 2011 — and improved facilities before leaving for Minnesota.

The Star-Tribune reported that former Minnesota associate AD Regina Sullivan filed a federal complaint against the university after being fired in October 2012. In the complaint she said Teague expected her to “take a passive role and defer to men’s opinions” on Title IX issues and that Teague fired her because she questioned his commitment to Title IX.

The newspaper reported the university and Sullivan reached a $175,000 settlement in 2014.

Rayno, in a story Tuesday in the Star-Tribune, said Teague made sexual advances to her in December 2013. She said Teague entered a cab with her, then pushed against her in the cab. The advances, she wrote, were made after a going-away party for a university communications director.

Teague issued a statement Friday saying he was embarrassed and that his behavior “neither reflects my true character nor the values of the University.”

Chip Alexander: 919-829-8945, @ice_chip