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Sexual harassment claim against Gophers' assistant AD prompts emergency private meeting

Undated courtesy photo of Randy Handel, Associate Athletic Director For Development at the University of Minnesota. (Courtesy of the University of Minnesota)

ST. PAUL — The University of Minnesota Board of Regents called an emergency private meeting Thursday morning, May 11, to discuss what was described as a personnel matter with the "potential for litigation."

KSTP-TV reported regents were notified Wednesday that Randy Handel, the associate athletics director of development, sexually harassed another employee in the athletics department. The university's Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office investigated and found Handel had violated university policy.

It's not clear whether the emergency meeting was related to the alleged finding against Handel.

The full board was scheduled to meet on a separate matter Thursday, but that presentation — on undergraduate diversity at the U's Twin Cities campus — was canceled when the private meeting went over an hour.

Handel was promoted to associate athletic director by former university athletics director Norwood Teague in 2013. With a salary of $148,000, Handel manages "the day-to-day development operations in the Golden Gopher Fund which includes all fundraising activity with capital campaigns, the annual fund, endowments, planned giving and the department's premium services and events," according to his bio on gophersports.com.

Teague resigned in August 2015 after it was revealed he groped two peers at a school leadership retreat and sent lewd text messages to another. The university redrafted its sexual misconduct policy in February. In response, an independent law firm was hired for an audit of the gender culture in Minnesota's athletics department. Ten lawyers and paralegals were paid at least $690,000 for their work.

The report, conducted by Minneapolis-based attorneys Karen Schanfield and Joseph Dixon, concluded that sexual harassment within the athletics department during Teague's tenure was "limited in number and the episodes were, by and large, effectively addressed as they occurred."

Handel, who lives in Woodbury with his wife and two children, joined Minnesota in June 2010 to raise money for Seibert Field, the home of Gophers baseball and for the then-proposed basketball development center. Handel's son, Michael, was a standout Gophers baseball player from 2012-15.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.

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