Board of Regents calls emergency meeting regarding employee-student relationships

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The UT System Board of Regents has called a special meeting to discuss legal issues related to individual athletics personnel and issues related to relationships between employees and students generally. 

The meeting will take place via telephone conference call Sunday afternoon.

System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo declined to say why the meeting, which will be held in closed session, was suddenly called, but she did say that the board does not plan on approving any specific course of action as a result of the conference.

“They don’t plan to take any action, but they made the decision that this was something they needed to care of and discuss,” LaCoste-Caputo said.

In January, former women’s track and field head coach Bev Kearney resigned, several months after admitting to an “intimate consensual relationship” with a student-athlete in the track and field program. The relationship began in 2002 and ended in 2005.

A year prior to the relationship, the University implemented a policy requiring that all relationships between supervisors and subordinates, including coaches and student-athletes, be disclosed.

According to the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures, “the University strongly discourages consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students and advisors and students.” The policy goes on to say that a failure to report the relationship “will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

But Kearney’s attorney, Derek Howard, said the University’s reasons for firing Kearney made no mention of those specific policies.

"[The University] doesn’t mention [Kearney’s] failure to report the relationship as the reason for firing her,” Howard said in a January interview with The Daily Texan. “It’s because she had the relationship, period.”

Kearney was the women’s track and field head coach from 1993 until the beginning of January. Under her guidance, the Longhorns won six national championships and earned 14 straight top-10 finishes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships between 1994 and 2007.