Saturday, 21 July 2018

Was Kearney’s lawsuit salacious gossip? We may never know.

Was Kearney’s lawsuit salacious gossip? We may never know.
21 Jun

If former Texas women’s track coach Bev Kearney and her attorneys ever got their day in court, the proceedings might’ve been more appropriate for Bravo than Court TV or, heaven forbid, the Longhorn Network.

Depending on who you talked to at Texas, Kearney’s discrimination lawsuit filed against the school in 2013 was either all smoke and no fire or a tell-all about rampant, internal, inappropriate sexual relationships involving some high-profile administrators.

Five years later, with many of the principals long gone after lengthy, failed attempts by Texas to dismiss the case in both the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and  Texas Supreme Court, the university — or representatives on behalf of the university — decided it was still a good idea to settle Kearney’s lawsuit. Kearney was seeking in excess of $1 million.

“The parties have reached an agreement to settle this matter, and the case will be dismissed,” Kearney attorney Jody Mask told Horns247 on Wednesday. UT officials also confirmed the settlement.

In the lawsuit, Kearney threatened to reveal several inappropriate relationships within the athletic department and throughout the university to prove her point that she was unfairly singled out and dismissed for having an intimate relationship with one of her female track athletes 10 years earlier.

Her lawsuit, which alleged discrimination based on her race (African-American) and gender, specifically named former Texas assistant football coach Major Applewhite, who revealed to school officials an extramarital affair with a graduate student trainer for the football team during the Fiesta Bowl in January 2009 but wasn’t fired. Instead, Applewhite had his salary frozen for a year.

As part of the case, Kearney’s attorneys took depositions from Applewhite, former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, former football coach Mack Brown and former school president Bill Powers. Dodds and Brown stepped down at Texas in 2013, and Powers stepped down as UT president in June 2014.

According to her lawsuit, Kearney said she was told by then-women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky that “as long as there were no other relationships, it should not be a problem.”

Texas Monthly reported Kearney purchased a Volkswagen Jetta for the student-athlete — former UT star sprinter Raasin McIntosh — an NCAA violation. Derek Howard, an attorney for Kearney, denied the allegation. Because the statute of limitations had run out at the time of the revelation, there was no NCAA investigation, officials said.

McIntosh came forward 10 years after the fact – right as Kearney was set to get a contract extension and raise. The new contract had been proposed by Plonsky and would’ve given Kearney a five-year contract extension and raise from $270,000 to $422,000 for 2012-13. Kearney’s salary could’ve reached up to $475,000, plus bonuses by 2017.

The lawsuit stated Kearney was constantly harassed by former Texas men’s track coach Bubba Thornton in the form of character assassination and false accusations of NCAA violations. Sources close to the situation say Kearney and Thornton never got along, because both thought they should be the singular coach over both the men’s and women’s track programs.

According to the lawsuit, when Kearney complained about Thornton to Dodds, Plonsky, UT vice president for legal affairs Patti Ohlendorf and UT vice president for minority affairs Greg Vincent – nothing happened.


In a statement released at the time of the lawsuit’s filing, Ohlendorf said:


“Ms. Kearney was a coach with some admirable qualities who brought success to our women’s track program, overcame great challenges, and contributed to the campus community.


“When the university reviews inappropriate behavior by its employees, each case is evaluated on its individual facts.


“In this case, it was evident that Ms. Kearney displayed a serious lack of judgment by having an inappropriate, intimate, long-term relationship with a member of her team.


“The team member later reported it to university officials who pursued all appropriate action.”


Kearney’s lawsuit alleged widespread inappropriate relationships between UT personnel and students, student-athletes and subordinates at the school.


The lawsuit alleged a “high-level administrator within the University’s Athletic Department has carried on a prolonged intimate relationship of approximately three years with a subordinate employee with whom he has direct involvement in setting her pay.”


As examples of how her white, male counterparts at Texas were treated differently, the Kearney lawsuit named then-co-offensive coordinator Applewhite, who admitted to school officials to having an inappropriate “one-time” relationship with a former graduate assistant trainer during the 2008 football season.


Applewhite was not terminated and didn’t face “any meaningful disciplinary actions,” the lawsuit said, referring to Applewhite having his salary frozen for a year.


The lawsuit also stated former Texas women’s volleyball coach Jim Moore (who stepped down last year after 12 years as volleyball coach at Oregon) was hired at Texas despite marrying one of his former student-athletes after they met during one of his previous coaching stints.


Here are the heart of the lawsuit’s allegations:


“Based on information and belief, other University employees (all of whom are white males) have been involved in relationships with students or direct subordinates and have not been subjected to termination, let alone any meaningful disciplinary actions.


“These University employees include Major Applewhite, other coaches within the University’s Athletic Department, current and former law school professors, current and former professors within the University’s undergraduate school, and a department chairperson.


“Based on information and belief, a high-level administrator within the university’s athletic department has carried on a prolonged, intimate relationship of approximately three years with a subordinate employee with whom he has direct involvement in setting her pay.


“Some of these employee-student/employee-subordinate relationships occurred while the university employee was already married. And several university employees have even gone on to marry their own students.


“In one of the most glaring examples of the university’s blatant disregard for this being an alleged problem amongst coaches and student-athletes, the university previously employed Jim Moore (current head volleyball coach at the University of Oregon) from 1997 to 2000 despite the fact he married his former student-athlete, Stacy Metro.


“These relationships between a professor, coach, or administrator and a student, student-athlete or subordinate employee, are believed to be well known by the university administration and quietly disregarded and swept under the rug.


“However, without citing any specific written policy, the university has singled out Ms. Kearney, an African-American female, regarded her as different based on a nearly 10-year-old relationship.”


Kearney was put on administrative leave in the fall of 2012 before being told she would be terminated. She was told she would have the right to appeal the decision but resigned before making that appeal.


Because of the settlement’s mutually binding, non-disclosure agreements, we’ll never know if Kearney’s lawsuit was more smoke than fire or if high-ranking employees at Texas were indeed carrying on in a way that would’ve been a ratings grab for Bravo TV. Enough money was paid to Kearney to make sure of that.


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