AUSTIN -- Former University of Texas women's track coach Bev Kearney has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the university alleging discrimination based on her gender and race, and retaliation.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in a Travis County District Court. In the suit Kearney claims she was "fired for having a consensual relationship with a student athlete a decade ago, while other UT employees in similar relationships — all white males — did not face termination or 'any meaningful disciplinary action.'"
Kearney's suit says UT maintains a policy concerning “consensual relationships,” but says there is no "prohibition of relationships between 'supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students and advisors and students.'"
Kearney accuses UT of having a double standard since she was fired for her relationship with a student, but others have not received the same consequences to similar actions. The lawsuit names Major Applewhite, offensive coordinator of the Longhorns football team, as an example of that double standard. Unlike Kearney, Applewhite was not fired after he admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a student in 2009. Applewhite's salary was frozen, but since increased. Applewhite was also told to attend counseling sessions.
The lawsuit also says other coaches, professors, and an unidentified “high-level administrator within the University’s Athletic Department” have been in similar situations.
UT hired Kearney in 1992. She was suspended in the fall of 2012 for having a relationship with a student. After being told she would be terminated, Kearney resigned from UT Jan. 5, 2013.
According to the suit, Kearney is "the winningest African American coach in any NCAA sport," and "was UT’s first and only African American coach in any sport. In addition to leading her team to six national championships, she was a three-time NCAA Outdoor Coach of the Year, two-time NCAA Indoor Coach of the Year, 16-time Conference Coach of the Year and recipient of the U.S. Sports Academy’s 2012 Distinguished Service Award. Also, she was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, UT Women’s Hall of Honor in 2006 and U.S. Track & Field Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007."
UT vice president of legal counsel Patricia Ohlendorf released a statement in regards to Kearney's lawsuit.
"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 statement said.
Kearney’s lawsuit said the $1 million is for what she would have made if she was still working, plus mental anguish and court costs.