U of M President offers next steps, timeline on recommendations in Gopher Athletics reports

December 11, 2015

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler outlined today implementation steps and a timeline regarding recommendations from two recent reports on Gopher Athletics.

“We have a road map for improvement and accountability that we must now address aggressively and swiftly,” said Kaler in his update to the University’s Board of Regents. “The implementation steps will help reinforce a culture that reflects and promotes our values against sexual harassment and assault within Athletics and across the University. Next steps will also improve compliance, accountability and stewardship in Athletics finances.”

The Board, through the Audit and Compliance Committee, will provide oversight on all implementation steps. Specifically, they include:

Re: Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA)
President Kaler has charged Vice President for Equity and Diversity Katrice Albert to lead a group to review all external review recommendations as they relate to EOAA’s work, including:

  • aligning with current efforts underway to implement our resolution agreement with the Office of Civil Rights, with which the external reviewers concurred.
  • determining whether any of the external review recommendations should be implemented beyond Gopher Athletics to the entire U of M system.

Re: Hiring and vetting of the next Athletics Director
President Kaler has charged Vice President for Human Resources Kathy Brown to develop and propose a search plan for the next Director of Athletics based on external review recommendations. Brown will make recommendations regarding the use of a search firm, the size and composition of the search committee, and the interviewing and vetting process to be used.

Re: Gopher Athletics finances
As described in the management response to the audit, some recommendations have already been enacted, including:

  • ending the University’s relationship with Villa 7;
  • terminating payments to employees by Learfield Sports;
  • receiving repayment of unallowable expenses by current employees while pursuing repayment by former employees;
  • changing our facility lease process to require the Vice President for University Services to co-sign all leases; and
  • creating a joint financial oversight group for the Athletics Department, to be chaired by Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter.

Specifically, the oversight group will:

  • ensure that appropriate financial controls are in place;
  • ensure policies and procedures are understood and adhered to by department personnel;
  • strengthen the culture of financial compliance through training and education; and
  • strengthen processes and procedures related to the procurement of alcohol for events and related hospitality.

Pfutzenreuter and Brown will also review options and best practices at peer institutions regarding a reporting line of the Gopher Athletics CFO to the University CFO, and make a recommendation to Kaler.

Additionally, Brown will evaluate the actions of current employees, as cited in the internal audit, and recommend appropriate discipline, if warranted and consistent with University personnel policies and past practice.

Kaler has set a January 19 deadline for the work listed above. A comprehensive report of the U’s progress in these matters will be given to the Board through the Audit and Compliance Committee at the February 2016 meeting.

 

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