consultants are sandburs

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Should the U.Minn. sue Parker Executive Search for failure to perform competently on the search that gained the U. Norwood Teague as AD?

It seems incumbent to sue to get the money back, and possibly for consequential damages, where a complaint at VCU was lodged against Teague and the search frim failed to uncover it, as would be expected in the normal course of business.

The question, were things ratified when the U. had a gender discrimination complaint against Teague and it paid the complainant off without firing Teague at that point?

Strib online, reports:

The school paid the Atlanta-based firm Parker Executive Search $112,539 in 2012 to find an athletic director and do background checks on leading candidates. Working with Parker on behalf of the U was a four-person search committee and a 23-member search advisory committee.

Teague emerged as the only finalist for the job, and took the position in April 2012.

That search failed to discover that former Virginia Commonwealth University women’s basketball coach Beth Cunningham filed a complaint against Teague when he was the athletic director there.

The Star Tribune reported last week that VCU paid Cunningham $125,000 in July 2012 to settle the complaint, which was filed earlier that year.

The University of Minnesota said in a statement that Parker assured the school “that it had no knowledge of any illegal or inappropriate behavior concerning a candidate’s history or current employment.”

[...] The U said as part of Parker’s background check the firm asked candidates to “to disclose in writing any potential issues of controversy or concern that the University of Minnesota should be aware of” and that Teague “signed a statement indicating no such issues exist.”

[...] The U said that it didn’t learn of the VCU complaint until December 2012, a few months before former Minnesota senior athletic director Regina Sullivan filed a federal complaint against the U accusing Teague of gender discrimination and made a reference to the settlement paid at VCU.

The U said that when it learned of the VCU settlement, the university’s general counsel contacted a VCU attorney to get more information. That attorney told the University of Minnesota that no information could be disclosed due to a confidentiality agreement.

[...] The U paid Sullivan $175,000 in November 2013 to settle her complaint.

[italics added] Curiously, details on internal deliberation prior to settlement decision making - during the near full year between Dec. 2012 and the Nov. 2013 Sullivan settlement date - are details presumably consciously omitted at this point from current U. public disclosure.

It appears the U. failed to show due care once on notice. Once learning of one earlier settlement elsewhere, and then quietly non-publicly settling another one here at the U. arguably is as clear a ratification as can be.

Why in the world was this behind an Iron Curtain business done as it was, instead of firing or otherwise sanctioning Teague then? Who had final say, and what was the reasoning? What sort of gag order on parties was written into the U's Sullivan settlement, and what was the reasoning behind it, if there was a gag order?

Folks in power were okay with Norwood Teague's conduct in that instance? And quietly so? What were the details, and how did they weigh into decision making of whoever at the U. was the ultimate decision maker in the instance? Was Teague allowed to be his own judge, or was that handled by some person or board or committee aside from Teague? Was it Kaler having authority and making the call? If so, how does this reflect on Kaler's continuing status?

Transparency and accountability are long overdue at this point. Mop up the mess in a genuinely contrite but thorough and publicly responsible manner. Anything less is evasiveness, yet again.

Do any of these players look clean? The appearance of things -- It took multiple gropings of women, by Teague, with a texting trail, to finally get Kaler off the dime.

It is a very sad chapter in the history of the U. Is it worse than the basketball academic fraud situation from a few years back? The argument saying that was worse is that it went to the core of what a university is about. Academics.

Teague, whose ongoing conduct is disgusting as is its not being quelled earlier, appears as a sexual bully without excuse. That is personal weakness, beyond and apart from academics.

First Bottom Line is the U. simply looks very bad, and in contending to be a beacon of excellence, some rehab is needed to rebrighten the light.

What will the Board of Regents do? What did they actually know, and when did they know it? Ditto, for Kaler.

Second Bottom Line, what reforms will be put in place and actually honored in the future? Severing any and all relationships with the Parker search firm seems an easy, clear, first step. They failed to do their job competently. Merely asking "Any rattling skeletons in the closet," and accepting, "Nope," is short of a hundred grand's worth of effort.

No comments: