Bev Kearney’s million-dollar-plus discrimination case against the University of Texas should be able to get moving again now that the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition for review filed by the school’s lawyers.
UT has two weeks to decide whether to ask the Supreme Court, again, to throw out the case, but it’s unclear whether the school’s lawyers will do that. UT officials could not be reached for comment. The case likely will move back to state district court in Austin.
Jody Mask, one of Kearney’s lawyers, told the American-Statesman he plans to restart the discovery phase of the case.
The only person who has been deposed is former UT quarterback and assistant coach Major Applewhite. Mask said he also plans to depose former football coach Mack Brown, former athletic director DeLoss Dodds and former school president Bill Powers.
Mask said Chris Plonsky, the UT women’s athletic director, will be on the list to provide depositions.
Mask said he will ask the state district judge assigned to the case to unseal Applewhite’s deposition.
Kearney, who has moved from Austin to San Diego, is the former coach of the UT women’s track team. She resigned in Jan. 2013 days after she was informed the school was firing her 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 with UT officials in the fall of 2012.
Kearney filed a lawsuit in state district court in Nov. 2013, calling for a minimum of $1 million in damages from the school. Mask said the actual damages probably are $4 million, which includes the total value of a contract she was about to sign before she was fired. Her lawsuit said UT showed a double standard by punishing Kearney for an inappropriate relationship with one of her student athletes. The suit said there were other employees who had been involved with students but who were not terminated.
The case has been stuck for four years because of all the appeals. Derek Howard, Kearney’s lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said: “Quite frankly UT came up with …. lots of ways to delay justice. It’s unfortunate it took this long.”
Kearney’s lawsuit specifically said Applewhite was treated differently after the school discovered he had a relationship with a female student trainer who worked with the football team. The affair happened in December, 2008, when UT was readying for the Fiesta Bowl. As punishment, Applewhite’s pay was frozen for a calendar year. But he eventually was promoted to offensive coordinator.
The lawsuit said “there were 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.”
If Kearney had been allowed to complete the school year back in 2013, she would’ve 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 coaches both men and women, was the highest paid nationally at $475,000. Oregon’s Robert Johnson, who also was both the men’s and women’s squads, made $400,000.
Before news of a decade-old affair had surfaced Kearney had been recommended for a substantial pay raise. 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, 2012, when UT learned of the old relationship with the athlete.
Kearney had been 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.
Mask said Kearney works as a private coach and consultant for track athletes.
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