Athletics Director Teague talks new track, recruiting

Norwood Teague also talked about late Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith.

Gopers athletics director Norwood Teague answers questions in his office at the Bierman Field Athletic Building on Sept. 18.

Daily File Photo, Elizabeth Brumley

Gopers athletics director Norwood Teague answers questions in his office at the Bierman Field Athletic Building on Sept. 18.

by Sam Kraemer

The Minnesota Daily met with athletics director Norwood Teague on Monday for the latest edition of “Talkin’ with Teague.”

Teague discussed head football coach Jerry Kill’s recruiting abilities, the volleyball team’s trip to Japan and more.

The Tucker Center here at the University of Minnesota recently released a study on the state of women’s sports head coaches across Division I schools. Minnesota earned a ‘B’ grade. How much of a priority is it for you to have women in leadership positions for women’s sports teams?

Well, it’s a tremendous priority. We always want to strive to have more and more. I know we were one of 11 schools to get an ‘A’ or ‘B.’ So we feel good about that, but we don’t want to stop there.

Minnesota ranked in the top five in the study. Is there still room for improvement?

We’re always working to have diversity in our coaching ranks. We’d like to have more female coaches. We always strive to hire more females, and we’ll keep at it.

Coach [Jerry] Kill’s football recruiting class ranked 62nd in the NCAA and 13th in the Big Ten by ESPN. How would you grade Kill’s recruiting abilities?

Oh gosh, I think he’s terrific. He and his staff are incredible with going out and evaluating talent that is maybe underrated. They’ve proven that while they’ve been here. They’ve proven it at Northern Illinois, and they are the best I’ve ever seen at that, so I wouldn’t pay attention to rankings. It’ll be another great class.

Do you think the new facilities would enhance his recruitment?

I think it will help with certain prospects, and with others, it might not be as large of a factor. But Jerry and his staff have a great way of finding talented football players that are great in high school that end up translating to the college game. And that’s really difficult with football because you sign 25 kids. They say if you bat 50 percent, you’ve done very well. And he’s usually over that.

Next week, the Gophers volleyball team will be traveling to Japan for some offseason training. How important is that abroad experience for Gophers athletes?

It’s good to get extra work, but it’s also great to develop our student-athletes on and off the field or off the court to go have an abroad experience because many times they don’t get to do that. They’re so busy with what they’re doing athletically, so that’s a big part of it that I think is a great service to them.

Has there been any progress on deciding the facility for the track team?

We’re working on it every day, and we’re exploring our options. We feel good about where we’re at. We’re exploring a lot of different angles, and I think we’ll be in a good place in the end.

Is it safe to say the team will practice at another college in the area?

Well, we’re working on some temporary options that are really broad, I guess we’ll say. We’re going to be in good shape.

The University announced a $6 million donation from alum Robert Eddy. How much of the development will this donation cover?

The project is $150 million, so it will go into the pot with everything. His was allocated to basketball because some donors want it put in a certain direction, and his will go toward that.

So, it’ll go to the whole [project], but his will go to basketball.

As a student at North Carolina, you worked in the sports information office while the late Dean Smith was head coach of the Tar Heels. How will you best remember coach Smith’s legacy?

Probably the effect he had on all of college basketball and the effect he had on the state of North Carolina. Growing up when I did in North Carolina and then going to North Carolina, the effect he had on that state is hard to explain. And that’s why it’s such a big deal. I mean, it’s such a huge loss because he was so instrumental and impactful in so many different ways at that school, in that state and also in college basketball. So I don’t know if I can pinpoint it because of how broad his legacy was.

Is there a certain memory of him you will always remember?

There’s so many memories of growing up and watching Carolina basketball, I can’t even pinpoint one. I dealt with him when I worked on the staff, and he was just a great guy.

I tell [you] what — I don’t get nervous around a lot of people. But when I was around coach Smith, I would get very, very nervous. He was such a legendary figure but was a wonderful, wonderful man.

The athletics department announced Mortenson as the construction manager for Athletics Village. How did Mortenson stand out from other companies?

That decision was made on campus through our capital planning [and project management] committee. I’m not involved in the decision at all. I know of the [companies] that made the bids, but I don’t have a say. We really allow the experts over there to make the decision.

But are you comfortable with the decision?

Oh sure. They built [TCF Bank Stadium], and they’re building the new Vikings stadium. They’ll do a wonderful job.