A college coach had a consensual relationship with a student. When university officials found out about it, they initiated proceedings to fire the coach.
A college coach had a consensual relationship with a student. When university officials found out about it, they ... required him to attend a session of counseling and then, after freezing his salary for 11 months, gave him a raise and a promotion.
Different schools have different policies. But the above incidents occurred at the same one: the University of Texas. The first coach is 55-year-old Bev Kearney—unmarried now and at the time of her relationship—who led the women's track team to six NCAA titles between 1998 and 2006.
The second coach is Major Applewhite, 34, the much beloved former Longhorns quarterback. At the Fiesta Bowl following the 2008 season, Applewhite engaged in "inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student one time during bowl activities," according to a statement released by athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
Kearney's long-term relationship, with one of her athletes, began in 2002. When Texas officials learned about it (the school has not disclosed how it came to light) and confronted her 10 years later, she immediately admitted it and expressed regret for her "poor judgment." In December, Kearney was informed by school officials that if she didn't resign, she would be fired.
At the time of his tryst with a 22-year-old student trainer, Applewhite was running backs coach and assistant head coach under Mack Brown. He was and is married; his wife, Julie, gave birth to their daughter that same month. In January 2011, Applewhite was promoted to co-offensive coordinator. His salary has increased from $260,500 to $575,000.
"One has to ask," says Kearney's lawyer, Derek A. Howard, "How can this be anything other than a double standard?"
University officials insist it isn't, attempting to draw a clear distinction between the situations. Kearney's conduct was intolerable, said Patti Ohlendorf, the university's vice president for legal affairs, because a relationship between a coach and student-athlete on his or her team "cannot be condoned in any event." The point is valid. Sleeping with one of your athletes is ill-advised for any number of reasons: the potential for distraction and favoritism; the power imbalance; the jaw-dropping lack of professionalism.
Still, consensual relationships between staff and students are not expressly forbidden by school policy (which "strongly discourages" them). The policy does, however, require staff who have engaged in such relationships to report them to an immediate supervisor. Kearney did not; Texas officials aren't saying whether Applewhite did or didn't.
Howard says these relationships are "a fact of life" in a university culture in general, and at Texas in particular. "The university has no interest in investigating anybody, in any fashion, whatsoever," he says. Citing impending litigation, Nick Voinis, Texas's senior associate athletics director for communications, would not comment on this or other specific allegations.