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November 14, 2013

Details of the Bev Kearney discrimination lawsuit

Depending on who you talk to at the University of Texas, the Bev Kearney discrimination lawsuit is either all smoke, no fire or the downfall of high-placed personnel at the school.

Either way, we're about to find out.

The long-awaited litigation was filed Thursday afternoon in state district court in Austin and alleges that Kearney, a former 6-time national champion coach of the UT women's track program, was discriminated against based on her race (African-American) and gender and suffered retaliation.

Kearney contends she was treated differently than her white male counterparts at Texas after admitting in 2012 (when confronted by superiors) to a sexual relationship with one of her student-athletes in 2002.

According to her lawsuit, Kearney said she was told by 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 star sprinter Raasin McIntosh, an NCAA violation. Kearney's attorney, Derek Howard, denies the allegation.

Howard told Orangebloods.com in March he was suspicious as to why 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 women's athletic director Chris Plonsky and would have given Kearney a five-year contract extension and raise from $270,000 to $422,000 for 2012-13.

Kearney's salary could have reached up to $475,000 plus bonuses by 2017.



The lawsuit states 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.

When Kearney complained to men's athletic director DeLoss Dodds, Plonsky, UT vice president for legal affairs Patti Ohlendorf and UT vice president for minority affairs Greg Vincent - nothing happened, the lawsuit states.

Ohlendorf released a statement Thursday in response to the suit:

"The University of Texas will thoroughly review the unfounded allegations in Ms. Kearney's lawsuit and respond through the proper legal channels.

"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 alleges widespread inappropriate relationships between UT personnel and students, student-athletes and subordinates at the school.

The lawsuit states 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 names Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, who has admitted to school officials to having an inappropriate "one-time" relationship with a former graduate assistant trainer in 2008.

Applewhite was not terminated and didn't face "any meaningful disciplinary actions," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit also states former Texas women's volleyball coach Jim Moore (now 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.

The lawsuit seeks in excess of $1 million.


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