Texas head women's track and field coach Bev Kearney has resigned following an investigation of an "intimate consensual relationship" with "a student-athlete in her program," according to a statement released by UT vice president for legal affairs Patti Ohlendorf on Saturday.
"Coach Kearney is a good person and has been very important to the University," Ohlendorf said in the statement. "However, she made this terrible mistake and used unacceptably poor judgment in having this relationship."
Kearney was placed on paid administrative leave in November for then-undisclosed reasons and it was revealed in an Associated Press report that women's athletics director Chris Plonsky asked UT President William Powers Jr. to give her a pay raise before the investigation began.
According to the statement, the investigation showed that Kearney began this relationship with the student-athlete "about 10 1/2 years ago" and ended it "about eight years ago." When Kearney was told that the University was preparing to terminate her, she decided to resign.
"The University determined that it no longer was appropriate for Coach Kearney to serve as head coach to work directly with our student-athletes," Ohlendorf said in the statement. "We cannot condone such an intimate relationship, including one that is consensual, between a head coach and a student-athlete. We told Coach Kearney such a relationship is unprofessional and crosses the line of trust placed in the head coach for all aspects of the athletic program and the best interests of the student-athletes on the team."
Kearney's resignation was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman, who spoke with the former Longhorns track coach in an exclusive interview that took place in the office of Kearney's attorney, Derek A. Howard.
"You destroy yourself. You start questioning how could you make such a judgment," Kearney told the Statesman. "How could you make such an error after all the years? You can get consumed [by it] ... It's been a difficult challenge for me simply because I have to forgive myself for making an error. I didn't commit a crime, but I displayed poor judgment."
Kearney had been the head women's track and field coach since 1993, leading the Longhorns to six national championships — three indoor and three outdoor — during her 20-year tenure. She was named her conference's coach of the year 16 times and guided Texas to 14 straight top-10 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships between 1994 and 2007, a previously unprecedented feat. Kearney was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.
"It's a shame 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," Howard told the Statesman in a statement. "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."
The identity of the former student-athlete that Kearney is said to have previously had an intimate relationship with was not revealed.
"As a public University, we are committed to transparency and disclosure," Ohlendorf said in the statement. "We also have a responsibility to our students to follow the strict federal laws that are designed to protect their privacy. The University will not identify the former student-athlete. We respect her privacy and appreciate her cooperation during our review."
Rose Brimmer, who has spent eight seasons as an assistant coach under Kearney, will take over as interim head women's track and field coach while Stephen Sisson, who has been an assistant women's track and field coach at Texas since 2006, will take on "expanded duties" in Kearney's absence.
Published on January 14, 2013 as "Questions remain after Kearney's resignation".