Allegations of sexual harassment, sexual assault and retaliation have surfaced regarding members of the University of Minnesota’s football team.
Email documents between University officials from July 16 revealed two reports of sexual assault by individual players, two reports of sexual harassment by groups of players and one report of retaliation involving a group of players.
The documents were originally obtained by the Star Tribune through a records request.
The email — between Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Director Kimberly Hewitt and former athletics director Norwood Teague — showed that neither sexual assault report was investigated because the reporting students chose not to go forward with an investigation.
In the email, Hewitt said her office was concerned with the reports and that they “may or may not be indicative of a broader problem.”
The email said the school investigated one of the sexual harassment claims and found that one player violated the school’s policy. The other sexual harassment report wasn’t
investigated because the reporting student did not want to go forward with an investigation.
The school also investigated the retaliation complaint and “found concerning behavior by football players” but unsubstantial evidence that the players violated school policy, according to the email.
“The fact that sexual assault is involved, which is more serious, obviously, than sexual harassment … I was surprised that we hadn’t been aware of it,” Regent Michael Hsu said.
He said he found out about the reports on Wednesday afternoon.
The complaints demonstrate “a concerning pattern of football player conduct that we believe requires responsive action,” Hewitt said in the email.
Interim athletics director Beth Goetz said in an email statement that members of the athletics department and the EOAA met to determine whether educational efforts for the football team were necessary. Discussions are still ongoing, she said.
“One report of sexual assault or harassment is one too many, and we took prompt, responsive action to investigate when notified of these reports,” she said in the email.
“Coach Kill has a strong track record of dealing with student-athlete issues as soon as they arise.”
The revealed allegations come on the heels of gender equity investigations that suggested Title IX noncompliance in some areas of the school’s athletics department.
Earlier this month, an update on gender equity investigations suggested possible issues with showers for the women’s soccer team, meal plans for athletes and the assignment of athletic trainers.
The allegations also follow Teague’s resignation in August after claims that he had sexually harassed University employees.
Less than a month after the events surrounding Teague, executive associate athletics director Mike Ellis left the program on administrative leave because of anonymous complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.
While none of these cases have led to any criminal charges, sexual harassment has still cost the University. In the last five years, the school has made five settlements in harassment cases totaling almost $450,000, according to documents obtained by the Minnesota Daily.
The complaints about Teague and Ellis were not included in those five cases. However, two cases involved former women’s gymnastics head coach Meg Stephenson and her husband, Jim Stephenson, a former assistant coach for the program.
Meg Stephenson resigned August 2014 after University officials determined she violated the school’s anti-retaliation policy by “expressing her significant anger” in the wake of accusations against her husband for sexually harassing a gymnast. The allegations against Jim Stephenson led to a $250,000 settlement.