Norwood Teague should never be allowed to work in college athletics again. Or in higher education.
It doesn’t matter if it’s at another Big Ten Conference school, another Power Five school, a mid-major or at your daughter’s junior high school. Norwood Teague betrayed the trust and respect of his school, his colleagues, his family and the people who know him. And he gave us more justification as to why we shouldn’t place much faith in our own leaders.
The gravity of what Norwood Teague did – sexually harass female employees as the athletic director at the University of Minnesota, and resign once his behavior came to light – was apparent before. It suddenly carried an even greater weight when Amelia Rayno, a Minnesota basketball beat reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, went public Sunday night with a detailed account regarding her interactions with Teague over the course of nearly a year.
Those interactions were unprofessional, unsavory, hypersexualized and an example of a man who had no control of himself – and who needs some serious professional help before he can even consider resuming his career in college athletics.
This is not how a top administrator at a major university should represent himself. Or should interact with women. Instead of treating Rayno with the professional respect she deserves, he followed his own impulses and cast fear on her job. And probably, to a certain degree, on her life. And I guarantee you that she is not the only one this has happened to, and that Norwood Teague isn’t the only one who has crossed the line into dangerous territory.
Some disclosure: I know Amelia, and I have worked in press boxes and on media row with her. She is a hard-working, respected reporter who is passionate about her job and about her beat. As we all should be in this business.
Maybe I am writing this simply because I am the token female in my sports department, but in 18 years of working in sports journalism, I am familiar with a hard truth about the jock culture. The hard truth that people don’t want to accept about the jock culture is that women are always valued more as one-dimensional currency and less as multi-faceted brokers.
And I know this: I feel a strong empathy with anyone who has to go through this, regardless of what they do for a living. And I know a universal truth, not just in sports or in journalism: this happens a lot more than we know.
But we can do something about it.
If this happens to you, go to your bosses. Go to a trusted advisor. If you’re a sports reporter, reach out to the Association for Women in Sports Media. As a member of AWSM’s board, I ask anyone in our industry – man or woman – that if you encounter this same problem, please reach out to us. Ask us for guidance. Utilize us as a resource. This is one of the many reasons why we’re here. Don’t sit in silence and simply hope the repulsive behavior stops. You’re probably not the only one going through this.
We have the right to set boundaries for ourselves. To know and exercise consent. To emphasize personal responsibility. Not just for ourselves but for the people whom we hold accountable as fellow human beings. And no one has the right to abuse their own power, or the liberties that they believe we give them because of that power.
Norwood Teague took liberties. Too many of them. Against his employees and the people who hold him accountable. Power and prestige are simply no justification for repulsive behavior. And no amount of power or prestige gives anyone the right to behave like a deviant – or to continue to support someone who does.