On Monday afternoon, news broke that VCU Athletic Director Norwood Teague had accepted a new job at the University of Minnesota. Teague’s six year tenure at VCU has witnessed incredible success and expansion for VCU basketball, both on and off the court.
Over the past decade, Virginia Commonwealth University basketball has gone from a decent CAA competitor to a conference juggernaut and an NCAA menace. The program has seen great players like Eric Maynor, Larry Sanders, Joey Rodriguez, and Bradford Burgess come and go. Coaches and administrators like Jeff Capel, Anthony Grant, and President Trani have also been important to the Rams’ success. But Athletic Director Norwood Teague has been one of the major, although less visible, keys to the Ram’s success on and off the court.
Sunday afternoon reports broke that Teague was “the only finalist” for the Athletic Director position at the University of Minnesota. On Monday afternoon it was announced that he had accepted the job.
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In July of 2006, Teague moved to Richmond after working at UNC as an Associate Athletic Director. One of Teague’s first responsibilities at VCU was hiring a new basketball coach after Jeff Capel departed for Oklahoma. Establishing an important precedent, Teague hired a young assistant coach and gave him his first head coaching job. It was an excellent hire as Anthony Grant led the Black & Gold to a VCU-record 28 wins and an NCAA victory over Duke in his first season. Meanwhile Teague consolidated the two atheltic funds into the Ram Athletic Fund which has grown by 119% during his tenure.
Even before VCU’s run to the Final Four, the Siegel Center saw a constant growth in attendence. Today, with 73% of the seats sold to season ticket holders and another 2,000 seats reserved for students, VCU is poised to extend its CAA-record 18 game sell-out streak.
Entering the year, 49% of VCU student-athletes boasted a 3.0 GPA or better with that number reaching 51% in the spring of 2011. Under Teague’s leadership, the basketball team has seen an increased use of charter planes which greatly limits the number of times students need to miss classes.
One can only imagine the conversations that Teague had with coach Shaka Smart a month ago when Smart weighed his own offer from a Big Ten school, but Teague’s situation is defferent. At Minnesota he will deal with an entirely new dimension of collegiate athletics: football. Success in football and basketball has been hard to come by for the Golden Gophers and attendance and revenue are going to be Teague’s main priorities.
His other priority will be dealing with a former Ram. Head basketball coach and former VCU assistant coach Tubby Smith has recruited well, but his injury plagued teams have missed the NCAA tournament for the past two years and they haven’t won a tournament game during his tenure. Tubby Smith won the 1998 NCAA National Championship at Univeristy of Kentucky before dwindling success led him to Minnesota. His success there has been underwhelming and Teague will have to decide Smith’s future upon arrival in Minneapolis.
Whether it is the new $9 million training facility that is in the works, the two incredible coaches that he gave big opportunities, or the constantly sold out energy of the Siegel Center, Norwood Teague leaves behind an incredible legacy, and VCU was lucky to have him for the past six years.
Photo by: VCU Athletics