A senior associate athletic director at the University of Minnesota, Mike Ellis, has gone on leave while outside lawyers investigate five anonymous complaints lodged against him since the resignation of athletic director Norwood Teague, the university confirmed Thursday.
University spokesman Evan Lapiska said the school asked Ellis and he agreed to take voluntary time off while the complaints are investigated by the same outside lawyers who were hired to investigate the circumstances of Teague's Aug. 7 resignation, which followed allegations from two high-level administrators that Teague sexually harassed them at a senior leadership retreat in July.
The spokesman said it's also possible that the complaints against Ellis could be handed off to some other ''appropriate authority'' should that become necessary.
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Lapiska said he could not disclose the nature of the five anonymous complaints against Ellis, which he said were received via the university's EthicsPoint system for reporting violations of university policies or other laws, rules and regulations. Ellis remains a university employee and has been cooperating fully, he said.
Ellis did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment Thursday.
Teague brought Ellis with him in 2012 from Virginia Commonwealth University, where Teague was athletic director and Ellis was his deputy. Ellis' responsibilities at Minnesota have included oversight of the men's basketball program, and he worked in tandem with Teague in firing coach Tubby Smith after the 2012-13 season, and in the hiring of Richard Pitino. Ellis founded Villa 7, an annual invitation-only seminar that brings top men's and women's assistant basketball coaches together with athletic directors to prepare prospects for their first head coaching positions.
Lapiska also confirmed that one prior complaint against Ellis was filed in January 2013. He said it was investigated by the university's central human resources office, no discipline resulted, and the matter was closed. He said the university can't disclose additional information about the nature of the complaint due to the state's data privacy law.