Former Texas women’s track coach Bev Kearney filed a $1 million lawsuit in state district court today alleging the school discriminated and retaliated against her based on gender and race.
The lawsuit filing was provided to the American-Statesman this morning. Derek Howard, Kearney’s lawyer, now has confirmed to the Statesman that the suit has been filed. Howard declined further comment.
Patti Ohlendorf, UT vice president for legal affairs, called the allegations “unfounded.”
“When the university reviews inappropriate behavior by its employees, each case is evaluated on its individual facts,” Ohlendorf said in a statement to the Statesman. “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.”
The lawsuit said that UT showed a double standard by punishing Kearney for an inappropriate relationship with a student athlete, but hired former volleyball coach Jim Moore, who married one of his athletes. Moore now is head coach at Oregon. He worked at UT from 1997-2000. Moore’s bio with Oregon says he’s married to Stacy Metro. The two have two children, ages 16 and 14. Metro, an assistant coach at Oregon, played at Northern Michigan.
The suit said there are others who had inappropriate relationships: “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.”
Applewhite had his pay frozen for nearly 20 months as discipline for having a brief affair with a student staffer on the football team at the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.
Kearney is asking the court for damages that include payment for lost and future wages, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish and court costs.
The suit says the damages would be at least $1 million.
Kearney resigned Jan. 5, eight days after she was informed that she would be terminated for having an inappropriate relationship with one of her athletes in 2002. Kearney, who led Texas to six national titles, had admitted to the relationship in meetings last fall with UT. The woman, who is now 30, has not been identified.
On March 8, Kearney filed a five-page complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, stating that she’d experienced a “severely hostile work environment at Texas over the past decade.
Had she completed the school year, Kearney would have been the third highest paid track coach in the country with a total benefits package of $304,000. Texas A&M’s Pat Henry, who has won 33 career NCAA titles coaching both men and women, is the highest paid nationally at $475,000. Oregon’s Robert Johnson, who also oversees both the men’s and women’s squads, will make $400,000 for the academic year.
Kearney had been recommended for a substantial pay raise last fall. The complaint said the raise was supposed to be nearly $150,000 a year. But the raise was put on hold, and she was placed on administrative leave in October, when UT learned of the relationship with the athlete.
Before she was placed on leave, Kearney was the highest paid head coach, outside of football, basketball and baseball, at UT. Her salary included an extra month’s pay for coordinating an annual minority symposium in conjunction with the Texas Relays. She also received an annual payment of $50,000 for product endorsements, the largest salary supplement received by any coach of a non-revenue sport.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.