U of M athletics director meets with local rotary club

University of Minnesota’s athletics director took time out of his schedule the morning of Feb. 12 to meet with the Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary.

University of Minnesota Athletics Director Norwood Teague met with the Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary the morning of Feb. 12 at the Tournament Players Club-Twin Cities Golf Course in Blaine. Photo by Eric Hagen

University of Minnesota Athletics Director Norwood Teague met with the Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary the morning of Feb. 12 at the Tournament Players Club-Twin Cities Golf Course in Blaine. Photo by Eric Hagen

Norwood Teague has been busy networking with potential donors for facilities upgrades, finalizing details with the Minnesota Vikings for the two years they will play at TCF Bank Stadium and evaluating the coaches.

He touched on all these topics with local community leaders at a breakfast gathering at the Tournament Players Club-Twin Cities Golf Course in Blaine.

Teague said he knew a lot about the University of Minnesota before his first day in late May 2012, but one thing that shocked him in a good way was the amount of passion people have for the University of Minnesota and Gopher athletics.

Teague has worked at the University of North Carolina, Arizona State and the University of Virginia. He said what sets the University of Minnesota apart from these schools is Minnesota only has one university where all sports compete in Division 1.

“The better we are, the more competitive we are, the more excellent we are in our sports, the more it does for the university and for the state of Minnesota,” Teague said.

Facilities fundraising

Teague this past July unveiled a $190 million facilities plan that would include a new men’s and women’s basketball practice facility, a football complex, wrestling training facility, outdoor Olympic sport track, Olympic sport indoor practice facility, women’s gymnastics facility and academic center.

The school announced in December that Minnesota Gopher Athletics Hall of Famer Lou Nannewould lead the fundraising efforts.

Teague told the Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary that the athletes, coaches and recruits love the newer facilities such as TCF Bank Stadium and Ridder Arena, where the women’s hockey team plays. However, the facilities they are in the most to eat and practice were mostly built in the 1950s and 1960s, he said.

The University of Minnesota’s academics center for athletes is 9,000 square feet, while the average academic center in the Big 10 Conference is 30,000 square feet, according to Teague.

“We have kids laying on the floor at night studying, hopping over each other. It’s just crowded and old,” Teague said.

Teague said the $190 million fundraising goalis the “10-year number.” They hired a consultant to visit potential donors for a fundraising feasibility study that is now wrapping up.

“People have been very positive as to what they are willing to consider as far as a gift,” Teague said. “Most of these were very big gifts, so I’m very enthused about that. So the future is very bright. As you can tell I’m excited. We have a lot of work to do, but we want to make you proud and do it the right way.”

Teague was asked if the school is starting its fundraising process with the larger donors before going after the smaller donations, and whether the university would use social media or some type of online crowd-sourced fundraising tool to collect these small donations.

Teague said an online donation system would be set up soon and noted that he recently read an article from a national publication that online fundraising is going well for many organizations.

“We’re not really going to the large donors first. We’re going to go to everybody with a kick-off in the next couple of months,” he said.

Paying players, academics, Vikings

In response to a question regarding players leaving college early to become professional athletes, Teague said he does not believe college athletes will ever be paid.

“I appreciate thinking outside the box, but we have 750 student athletes,” hesaid. “They get a free education. They get plenty. The faculty would say they get too much whereas the media thinks you need to pay them because we make all these millions of dollars.”

According to Teague, every team had a cumulative grade point average of over 3.0 and athletes have a higher graduation rate than the rest of the U of M student body. When Jerry Kill became the football coach, 22 players were on academic probation. None were on academic probation this past season, Teague said.

The Minnesota Vikings will call TCF Bank Stadium home for the 2014 and 2015 seasons while its new stadium is constructed, paying the university $3 million each year

Teague said the university will put this money in an escrow account for future upgrades or upkeep of the stadium.

The Vikings will also cover $6.6 million in renovations to TCF Bank Stadium needed to add a new heating system for the playing field, winterize part of the stadium, replace artificial turf, add camera platforms, storage space and temporary bleachers for 1,750 fans, according to a Star Tribune article highlighting the Feb. 12 Vikings’ presentation to the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

“I think it’ll be great for them to be there,” Teague said.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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