By: Sean Newell
Bev Kearney has been the women's track and field head coach at the University of Texas since 1993 and has overseen six National Championship squads in that time
. In October, Kearney was placed on paid administrative leave
when, it now seems, a former student-athlete with whom she had a "consensual intimate relationship
" in 2002, reported the years-old relationship to the school. Kearney has not revealed the identity of her former student.
Curiously, the decision to place Kearney on leave—which was announced on November 12, 2012—came after she was recommended for a hefty salary increase.
The Associated Press, in a Nov. 30 article that cited documents obtained in a public-records request, reported that Kearney's paid leave came after she had been recommended by Texas women's athletic director Chris Plonsky for a significant raise. The recommendation called for increasing Kearney's salary from a base of about $270,000 to $397,000 plus a $25,000 longevity bonus. The changes were to take effect this fall pending the approval of the University of Texas regents.
In 20 years at Texas she had been named conference coach of the year 16 times
, National Coach of the year three times and in 2007 she was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame
Kearney's attorney, Derek Howard, seems to think the University is treating his client unfairly, though the two have refused to discuss what, if any, legal action the coach may take.
In a statement provided to the American-Statesman, Howard said, "We believe that Ms. Kearney has been subjected to a double standard and has received far harsher punishment than that being given to her male counter-parts who have engaged in similar conduct."
"It is a shame," Howard added, "that this remarkably talented female African-American coach, who has devoted her life to helping others, is being bullied and scapegoated by the University of Texas."
According to Howard, at the time of the relationship Kearney was unwittingly in violation of a recently-passed university rule requiring disclosure of consensual relationships
. The rule required notifying a superior of any consensual relationship between a UT faculty or staff member and a student or student-employee when a supervisory relationship exists between the two and cooperation with the superior "in making the arrangements necessary to resolve the conflict of interest."