AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A former University of Texas president, former athletic director and former football coach Mack Brown all are scheduled to be questioned under oath next week in a sex and race discrimination lawsuit filed by former women’s track coach Bev Kearney, who was forced out after the school learned she had a romantic relationship with one of her athletes a decade earlier.
Kearney’s attorneys have identified former President Bill Powers and former athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Brown as key figures in how the school reacted to Kearney’s relationship and how its disciplinary response differed from actions taken against former football assistant Major Applewhite, who was allowed to stay on the job and later promoted despite a relationship with a student trainer on a team bowl game trip after the 2008 season.
Kearney, who is black, was forced to resign in 2013 under threat of being fired. Applewhite, who is white, was ordered to undergo counseling, but was allowed to keep his job. He was later promoted and stayed on Brown’s staff until Brown was forced out after the 2013 season. Applewhite, who also played quarterback at Texas, is now the head coach at Houston .
Kearney’s lawyers have questioned why the school publicly announced Kearney’s discipline, but Applewhite’s incident, which school officials have called consensual, didn’t surface until nearly five years later when the Daily Texan student newspaper filed a public records request for his personnel file. University regents said they didn’t know about the Applewhite incident until 2013.
“Why did Texas sweep the misconduct of Applewhite, a white male, under the rug, but publicly punish Kearney, an African-American female? It’s time for the decision makers to explain themselves,” Kearney attorney Jody Mask told The Associated Press.
Dodds and Powers are scheduled to be deposed Monday and possibly into Tuesday. Brown’s deposition is scheduled for Tuesday. All three are still on the Texas payroll and have been represented by school attorneys.
School officials have said Kearney “crossed the line” as a coach with her relationship with a student athlete.
“All actions taken by Texas were lawful and appropriate” the school said in a statement Friday. “We are continuing to respond to this lawsuit through the proper legal channels and will not discuss it through the media.”
Applewhite didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment made Friday through the University of Houston.
Kearney was one of the most successful women’s track coaches in the country and was considered for a significant raise in 2012 until the 2002 relationship with one of her runners was reported to school officials. She now lives in California.
Kearney’s lawyers are accelerating evidence gathering after a two-year delay. Witness interviews had been on hold while the university pursued appeals to block the lawsuit. Those moves began shortly after Kearney’s lawyers first informed Texas they would seek depositions from Dodds, Powers, Brown and others, including women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in June the lawsuit could proceed.
Applewhite is the only person deposed so far. His interview and documents previously released to Kearney’s lawyers were sealed by a court order, requested by the university on the grounds that it was needed to protect private student information. It is likely the school seeks to keep the latest round of depositions private as well. Kearney’s lawyers have said they will ask the trial court to lift the protective order.
Kearney’s lawyers have said they are willing to discuss settling the case. Texas has already spent about $500,000 to defend the lawsuit, according to financial records obtained by the AP.
Current track coach Mario Sategna took personal leave in 2016 and was later placed on administrative leave as the school conducted an ethics and conduct investigation.
The reason for the investigation was never made public. Sategna was allowed to return to work in January after the school said its concerns had been addressed. The state attorney general’s office has ruled school officials can keep the results of that investigation secret.