Teague talks NCAA rules

In the first interview of a new Daily series, the athletics director discussed the Vikings and school facilities.

Sam Kraemer

The Minnesota Daily sat down with University of Minnesota athletics director Norwood Teague for its inaugural edition of “Talkin’ with Teague” on Thursday.

Teague, now in his third year at the University, discussed new NCAA rules, the school’s facilities and the Minnesota Vikings’ presence on campus.

The NCAA established a new rule in April allowing athletes to have unlimited snacks. What impact do you believe this has had on the school’s student-athletes?

I think it’s having a great impact, and granted, it’s a new initiative, so the entire NCAA family is watching it roll out as we speak. But it’s important that we provide all we can for our student-athletes, and it seems to be going really well.

Why’s it going so well?

Well, we demand a lot out of [the student-athletes] time-wise, and especially with football. To have it centralized where they eat over in our football building I think is very good. We can also monitor nutrition, which is helpful. Anybody would love to have that service for anybody. Those combined make it very efficient and a great service to them.

How does the NCAA granting the power five conferences autonomy affect the University? What changes can we expect moving forward?

Well, first of all, it allows us to tackle an array of issues as a power conference. In many cases, our issues tend to be different, so it allows us to vote on different topics that we feel are important. It has not rolled out yet, so we’re all organizing our thoughts right now collectively, especially as members of the Big Ten, and then we’ll see how it rolls out. I think it’ll be a positive thing as it progresses.

Do you think this will lead to more revenue?

I don’t know. It’s not really a revenue issue. It’s more of a student-athlete wellness issue. And dealing with things, like cost of attendance, that … we feel like that within these five power conferences are important. So, it’s not going to be a revenue issue exactly, it’s more for the student-athletes in a different way.

So you think this will be a process we won’t probably see changes from until the next calendar year?

Yeah, it’ll be a slow rollout. [There are] still items that are being voted on at the NCAA level as to what autonomy we will exactly have.

Recently, the University announced a partnership with Land O’Lakes to donate $25 million to the [University]. Have you seen the impact of that donation on other donors?

Certainly. I mean it has provided a great shot in the arm. It shows that we’ve got a lot of support out there, and it has given us the momentum that we’ve looked for.

Fundraising is a process, and it takes a lot of cultivation. It takes a lot of time. You don’t want to rush through it. … The Land O’Lakes [donation] was a one-day announcement, but it took several months to get to that point. Our pace has been good, and I’m pleased with how it’s been going before and after that donation from Land O’Lakes, but the effect has been good.

Can we expect another announcement in the near future?

The key right now is just to have the steady progress. We’d love to have some more announcements, but we’ll see. The prospects have been very good. The conversations have been very good with all the people out there, and we’re just seeing how it all comes together.

During your time as athletics director, you’ve had the chance to hire numerous coaches. What qualities and traits do you look for when hiring coaches?

You first look for integrity. You obviously want someone who will abide by NCAA rules and be above [the] board in that area. And we have that, and I’m always pleased with what we have now in that area.

We look for someone who can recruit at the highest level because recruiting talent is so important.

And lastly, someone who will develop the men and women off the field, on the field and in future endeavors so that when they leave here, they’re ready to make impactful careers.

Would you say the coaches that have carried over from [former athletics director Joel] Maturi’s time to yours have those traits and qualities?

At this moment, I cannot be prouder of the group that we have. It’s a terrific group, and they have us on a great path moving forward.

Recently a lot of assistant coaches including Krystle Seidel, Joel Johnson and Whitney Taney have been named “associate head coach.” What added responsibilities come with the change of title?

It really depends upon the sport. The coaches want that to happen and request that that happens. [The title change] may add a lot more responsibility in different areas. It just depends on what their needs are for the program. It’s really program-specific.

It’s also a retention tool. And that is, to give someone who’s really succeeding — someone we want to keep — more experience and give them more responsibility. It develops them in their career, and that’s really important.

Nearly all of the University’s teams retained or improved upon their multi-year APR (academic progress rate). Is there something specific you would attribute this rise to?

We’ve done really well academically, and I attribute [that] first to the head coaches establishing a culture of academics in their programs.

Secondly, the student-athletes have worked very hard, and their peers hold them accountable in their academic progress, which has been great.

Also, our academic counselors have done a terrific job and have great relationships with the student-athletes and work hard to hold them accountable. …

Aside from the ongoing facilities plan, what is the biggest thing you hope to accomplish during your third year as athletics director?

I think I want to continue to do three things: one is impact the lives of our student-athletes. We have 750 of them here every year and just have a great opportunity to impact their lives.

Secondly, [I want to] continue to enhance the reputation for the University. I mean we are a major engine for that, because of our exposure and just the nature of our area.

And lastly, there’s very few places that I’ve worked where the entire state cares about the University and athletic department as they do in the state of Minnesota, so it’s our job to make Minnesotans proud.

Does the care that the state shows make your job better?

Any time you have interest, and any time you have care, the job is better. But it also puts [pressure] on us to succeed, and we’ve got to work hard to improve.

From your perspective, how does the Vikings’ presence on campus affect the University as a whole?

I think it raises our profile. It’s something that we’re happy to provide the Vikings. The state of Minnesota came to us and asked us to do this, we obliged and it’s going to be a great two years.

And I want them, at the end of their two years, to feel great about it as well. … I think it’s great, and it’s a lot of fun to have them here.