U of M retains external legal counsel Karen G. Schanfield to review and assess sexual harassment claims and the climate in athletics
Today the University of Minnesota announced it has retained an independent, external legal counsel, Karen G. Schanfield of the law firm Fredrikson & Byron P.A., to conduct a review and address key issues following the resignation of former Gopher Athletics Director Norwood Teague. President Kaler asked the General Counsel to retain Ms. Schanfield on behalf of the Board of Regents. President Kaler has asked the Chair of the Board to assign a regent to participate on a committee that will oversee the review and provide periodic reports to the Board.
Schanfield is a well-regarded employment law expert known for leading many high-profile cases. She advises and represents employers on a broad range of workplace matters, including harassment, discrimination, non-compete agreements, retaliation and more. Schanfield will work with her partner, Joseph T. Dixon, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney.
"These external and independent experts will help ensure we fully address any allegations of sexual harassment involving our previous leadership in Gopher Athletics, and will help strengthen the climate in Intercollegiate Athletics,” said President Eric W. Kaler. "Sexual harassment at the University of Minnesota will not be tolerated, and we must keep in mind and provide full support to those harmed by the deplorable actions of a former employee. We believe an independent review is essential to help us to learn lessons and, most importantly, to move the University forward."
Schanfield and Dixon will provide a public, written report to Kaler, consistent with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Schanfield and Dixon will:
- Review and investigate all allegations of sexual harassment against Teague or other senior leaders in the athletics department received following Teague’s resignation.
- Review and investigate as appropriate, any new EthicsPoints complaints regarding sexual harassment in the athletics department.
- Review whether the University knew or should have known of allegations of sexual harassment by Norwood Teague, but failed to address it.
- Review the University’s vetting of Teague during his hiring process.
- Assess the University’s climate in Intercollegiate Athletics with regard to reporting and addressing of sexual harassment, in partnership with the University’s Office for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.
Additionally, Kaler has consulted with the Legislative Auditor and both have full faith and confidence in the University’s Associate Vice President of Internal Audits Gail Klatt to conduct a full audit of Intercollegiate Athletics. This audit was approved by the Board of Regents Audit Committee in June as part of this year’s audit plan, and that work will commence immediately with an initial focus on the information most pertinent to the activities surrounding Teague. Klatt has an independent reporting line to the Board of Regents.
About Karen Schanfield and Joseph Dixon
Schanfield is a University of Minnesota Law School graduate who, among other matters, conducted reviews of allegations of sexual harassment and other employment-related claims against several high-level individuals, including the former Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. Dixon led the U.S. Attorney’s prosecution of Tom Petters. Prior to joining Fredrikson & Byron, he served as corporate in-house counsel where he led numerous internal investigations involving allegations of misconduct.