U of M President Refuses to Comment on 3rd Athletic Department Sexual Harassment Violation

May 11, 2017 11:55 PM

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler refused to be interviewed about another sexual harassment investigation within the University’s Athletic Department as he hosted the Board of Regents at his home in St. Paul Thursday night.

KSTP broke the news Wednesday night that Randy Handel, associate director of development, had violated the school’s policy on sexual harassment, according to an email sent to the board.  Handel was put on paid leave Tuesday.

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Details of the email were provided to KSTP by a regent on the condition of anonymity.

Handel was investigated by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) after an employee in the athletics department filed a complaint, according to the email. The EOAA issued its preliminary findings against Handel May 3.

RELATED: REPORT: U of M Athletics Official Violated Sexual Harassment Policy

 Handel is the top fundraiser for university athletics and is in charge of multi-million dollar projects like Athletes’ Village.

Nobody answered the door at Handel’s home in St. Louis Park Thursday and he has not returned messages left at his office in TCF Bank Stadium.

Dean Johnson, Chair of the Board of Regents, asked fans to be patient as the investigation unfolds.

“We are concerned as a university about the perception that it leaves," Johnson said.

RELATED: Board of Regents Launches Investigation into Source of KSTP's Report

Handel is the third high level official from the athletics department to be investigated for sexual harassment in the last two years.

In 2015, former Athletic Director Norwood Teague — who promoted Handel to his current position — resigned after his own scandal in which he admitted harassing two employees.

Teague’s Associate Athletic Director Mike Ellis was also later investigated for complaints of harassment. Ellis resigned, but denied any wrongdoing.

The details of Teague’s scandal rocked the campus and led the University to change its training on sexual harassment.

"Training has taken place, seminars have been given… people have been asked to be responsible at all levels," Johnson said Thursday, adding that “this university will be straightforward and we will be transparent as we go forward.”

Yet, Johnson could not explain why the board was not informed of the Handel investigation until a week after the EOAA released its preliminary findings.

Athletic Director Mark Coyle, who pledged to stabilize the department in wake of the Teague scandal, also declined to comment on the investigation Thursday.

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Joe Augustine

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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