Bubba Thornton

Bev Kearney, former women’s track and field head coach, filed a lawsuit against the University alleging discrimination based on her race and her gender Thursday, according to her attorney, Derek Howard.

Kearney resigned in January after being told the University was prepared to fire her for a having a consensual relationship in 2002 with Raasin McIntosh, who was a student-athlete on Kearney’s team.

In her lawsuit — which seeks more than $1 million — Kearney said Bubba Thornton, former men’s track and field head coach, consistently demeaned her in front of others and falsely accused her of committing NCAA infractions.

The lawsuit points fingers at a wide range of University officials who Kearney claims she reported the harassment incidents to and chose to do nothing about it. The list includes men’s and women’s head athletic directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky, Jody Conradt, former women’s head athletic director, Patricia Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs, Gregory Vincent, vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and individuals in the human resources department.

"The University of Texas will thoroughly review the unfounded allegations of Ms. Kearney's lawsuit and respond through proper legal channels," Ohlendorf said in a statement.

The lawsuit also alleges that other University employees — predominately white males — have been involved in relationships with students or direct subordinates and have not received any disciplinary action. It cites the University’s handling of an incident with football co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite as an example. Applewhite engaged in “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student” in 2009, according to a letter from Dodds obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act in February of this year. Applewhite’s salary was suspended for a year following the incident, but he has since received promotions and raises.

"When the university reviews inappropriate behavior by its employees, each case is evaluated on its individual facts," Ohlendorf said in a statement. "In this case, it was evident that Ms. Kearney displayed a serious lack of judgment by having an inappropriate, intimate, long-term relationship with a member of her team. The team member later reported it to university officials who pursued all appropriate action."

Kearney took the helm of the women’s track and field program in 1992, and her teams have won six NCAA championships.

Kearney was placed on administrative leave by the University almost exactly one year ago after McIntosh revealed her past relationship with her coach to officials in UT athletics. Since then, much has changed in the department. Thornton announced his retirement in June and Dodds plans to step down in August. The UT System Board of Regents voted to approve Steve Patterson, the newly hired men's head athletic director, Monday.

The athletics department announced June 17 that Bubba Thornton, Texas' men's track and field head coach, will not be reprising his position next year, as he and men's athletics director DeLoss Dodds reached a mutual agreement to terminate the last year of his contract. 

"It has been a singular honor to serve as track and field coach for the University of Texas men's indoor and outdoor track teams, as well as oversee the cross country team, for the past 18 years," Thornton said after the announcement was made. "It was a privilege to serve this great university with its extraordinary heritage of developing scholar athletes." 

Thornton arrive at Texas after coaching at Texas Christian University, spending 18 of his 31 seasons of coaching with the Longhorns. While a head coach, Thornton produced 26 NCAA champions, one relay champion and 19 NCAA top-10 finishes, while leading 94 student-athletes to 222 All-America honors. 

This past season, the Longhorns finished No. 6 with two individual championships. Thornton finished his career with 12 conference championships. At Texas, athletes hold 18 of 29 indoor school records and 14 of 29 modern outdoor school records. 

"Not only has he amassed a notable record here at UT, but his capabilities have been recognized internationally when he was named head coach of Team U.S.A's 2008 Olympic Men's Team," Dodds said. 

In addition to his work at Texas, Thornton worked on the Olympic ad World Championship circuits. He served as an assistant coach for Team U.S.A. at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, working with athletes competing in the 400-meter dash, 400-meter hurdle and the 4x400-meter relay. He coached athletes to three gold medals and one silver medal. 

In 2008, Thornton was selected as the head coach for the U.S. track and field team at the Beijing Summer Olympics. The U.S. finished with 14 medals overall, including four gold, at those games, more than any other country. Thornton was awarded the Order of Ikkos medallion for his serve to the United States Olympics Committee for his work as a coach. 

Following Thornton's retirement, which becomes effective Aug. 31, Dodds and women's athletics director Chris Plonsky will be restructuring the track and field program, combine the men's and women's programs under one head coach for the first time at Texas. Merged track programs have been on the rise and Texas is currently the only Big 12 Conference school with a split program. Texas announced Thursday that the new, combined head coaching position would be filled by Mario Sategna. Sategna, who has spent the last 10 seasons as an associate head coach under Thornton, ran track for Louisiana State University and has experience coaching on both the collegiate and Olympic level.

 "Mario's a really hard worker," senior hurdler Keiron Stewart said last week. "He's been here for a while, he's worked in Bubba's shadow for a long time. He knows the ropes, he knows the institution, he knows what it stands for and he will push everyone to do their best, to give the most that they can give to the team." 

Thornton's decision to step down comes on the heels of women's track and field head coach Beverly Kearney's departure this past January, after the revelation of her relationship with a student-athlete in 2002. Kearney resigned upon learning that Texas was prepared to begin the termination process. 

Based on documents obtained from 2004, Kearney filed a complaint with Dodds, stating that Thornton tried to undermine Kearney and accused her of breaking NCAA rules. The two head coaches had a history of friction and Thornton spoke openly about eventually hoping to take control of both programs. 

"With everything that happened here, the good, the bad or the ugly, he always remained Bubba," Steward said. 

According to a statement released by Texas, in retirement Thornton plans to take a a greater role in community interests and spend more time with his wife of 43 years, Kay, daughters Courtney and Piper and his two grandchildren, Sam and Sophie. 

"I think it was time," Stewart said. "Bubba's been here for 18 years. He's done his time, put in a lot of work and now he gets to relax. He gave me great opportunities here." 

Thornton, who is currently on vacation, could not be reached for further comment.

 

Texas Men's Track and Field head coach Bubba Thornton to retire

Texas Men's Track and Field head coach Bubba Thornton announced his intent to retire at the end of the summer on Monday afternoon. His retirement will go into effect on August 31. Thornton just finished his 18th year as head coach at Texas and 32nd year as a head track and field coach.

This past season, Thornton lead the Longhorns to Big 12 Indoor and Outdoor Titles and concluded with a sixth place NCAA Outdoor Championships finish. During his career, Thornton amassed 12 conference championships and 19 NCAA Top 10 finishes. Thornton was also named the Head Coach of Team USA's 2008 Olympic Men's team. 

With the departure, the Texas Athletic Department will combine the women's and men's programs at Texas into one program. 

"My decision to retire this year was made easier by the work this staff and team have put in," Thornton commented. "They have a tremendous foundation for great success next year...I'm as proud of this team as any that I have coached." 

Men's Track and Field

No. 8 Texas captured the men’s Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship this weekend in Aimes, Iowa. This title is the sixth indoor title in Longhorns’ history and came on the back of strong victories by two seniors — Keiron Stewart  and Hayden Baillio — and a brilliant campaign from freshman heptathlete Johannes Hock.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” head coach Bubba Thornton said. “What a great team effort. We scored in every event but three, and every guy on the team scored a point.”

The Texas team captured the title with a strong 135-point total for the weekend, beating out second place Oklahoma who totaled 108.50 points. Stewart captured his second Big 12 title in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.72. Baillio won the shot put and his first Big 12 title with a toss of 64 feet, 5 inches — the second best toss in his career.

Johannes Hock, a multi-event athlete from Germany, gained a commanding lead in the heptathlon Saturday which he never gave up. He won the 60-meter dash with top marks, long jump, shot put and tied for first in the pole vault.

The three members of the team might have punched their tickets for the NCAA Indoor Championships with their strong performances at the Big 12 meet. The Championships will bring together the holders of the top marks in each NCAA event and will be held March 8-9 in Fayetteville, Ark.

A pair of letters obtained by The Daily Texan highlight an enduring friction between Bev Kearney, the former women’s track and field coach who resigned in January, and Bubba Thornton, men’s track and field coach.

The letters, from Kearney to DeLoss Dodds, men’s athletics director, in 2004 were obtained by the Texan through the Texas Public Information Act.

In a May 4, 2004, letter to Dodds, Kearney filed several complaints against Thornton: that he had spread negative comments about her to her players and peers, that he publicly disrespected her at the Texas Relays and that he was angling to be the director of both the men’s and women’s programs.

“Recently I feel my character, my professionalism and my integrity has been defamed and slandered by Coach Bubba Thornton,” Kearney said in the letter. “Bubba has not only brought into question my coaching capabilities but more importantly his actions against me have begun to effect [sic] my reputation.”

A week later, Kearney sent a follow-up memo to Dodds and Chris Plonsky, women’s athletics director. Kearney again addressed Thornton’s desire to be the track director, claiming that Thornton had offered Kearney’s job to an unnamed track coach at another major university. The coach then informed Kearney.

“I was informed from the [coach] that Bubba has indeed offered my job to the current head track coach of this other university as he is anticipating taking over both of our programs,” Kearney said in the May 11 memo.

“As I am sure you can understand, I also feel that I have been put in a very awkward and overwhelmingly precarious position,” Kearney continued in the memo. “In addition, I do not want to jeopardize my relationship with you. I am sure you would agree that being forthcoming about what I have learned is the only thing I can do.”

Kearney declined to comment for this story through her attorney. Thornton did not return multiple requests for comment.

In an interview Thursday, Dodds said the relationship between Kearney and Thornton was “fine.” When shown the letters, Dodds said he could not remember them.

”Overall, I would say their relationship was OK,” Dodds said. “[Those letters] must have been before last week. I can’t remember that long ago.” 

Nick Voinis, senior associate athletics director, who was present for the interview in Dodds’ office, said he was aware of correspondence from Kearney regarding Thornton.

“I heard there may have been a memo or two there,” Voinis said. 

After she was told the University was prepared to fire her for having a relationship with a former student-athlete in her program in 2002, Kearney, the head coach since 1993, resigned in January. She led the Longhorns to six national championships — three indoor and three outdoor — during her 20-year tenure. 

Thornton became the head of the men’s program in 1996 after a 13-year stint as head coach of his alma mater, Texas Christian University. He served as the head coach of the men’s track and field team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 

Rose Brimmer, an assistant coach under Kearney, is the interim head coach of the women’s track and field program. Dodds said they are still in the process of deciding what to do about the position for the future.

Asked if the athletics department is considering combining the men’s and women’s programs with Thornton in charge, Dodds — a former track coach himself — said they are a few weeks from making that decision.

“It seems the world has pretty much gone to one head coach and assistant coaches,” Dodds said. “We’ve stayed with a two-coach system, but [putting Thornton in charge of both programs is] part of the discussion about what we need to do.”

— Reporting by Christian Corona, Shabab Siddiqui and Trey Scott

Beverly Kearney's complaints against Bubba Thornton

Beverly Kearney and Bubba Thornton Open Record Request

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Letters reveal Kearney's rift with coach". 

At last year’s 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships, the Longhorns finished seventh and were ranked third in the USTFCCCA’s John McDonnell Men’s Program of the Year award standings.

For the 2013 season, the Texas Men’s Track and Field team boasts a roster with 11 All-Americans and comes in with a No. 3 preseason indoor national team ranking in the USTFCCCA poll. The season also marks the 17th year head coach Bubba Thornton has led the program.

Texas kicked off its season in Fayetteville, Ark., this past Friday against No. 1-ranked Arkansas.

Seniors Keiron Stewart and Hayden Baillio each earned first and second-place finishes for the Longhorns while sophomore Craig Lutz returned to win the 3,000 meters after an injury that caused a less-than-ideal team finish at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Despite these victories, top-ranked Arkansas slid past Texas to win yet again, 85-78.

“The guys showed a lot of potential tonight,” Thornton said. “I feel good about where we’re at and we’ll get better in the next competition.”

Men's Track

Texas produced rounds of gritty performances during Saturday’s competition at the Longhorn Invitational en route to winning 10 events.

Texas’ throwers have dominated the ring all season, and this time the bunch came away with titles in both the shot put and discus.

Redshirt freshman Blake Jakobsson won the discus for the first time in his career with a heave of 56.11 meters. Four Longhorns followed Jakobsson: Ryan Crouser, Will Spence, Jacob Thormaehlen and Hayden Baillio as UT swept the top five spots.

“It was really good for Blake,” head coach Bubba Thornton said. “It was a nice day. He had some personal bests but more importantly he moved up in the conference standings. Those points will become really critical in that event so it was good to see him doing the things that we asked him to do.”

Baillio followed suit with his first outdoor career win in the shot put. His throw of 19.09 meters edged Thormaehlen, who threw 19.06.

Pole vaulters Mark Thomas, Hayden Clark and Casey Wicker clenched the top three collegiate spots in the event. Thomas and Clark both posted top vaults of 5.20 meters. Thomas took the title because he was able to clear that height in fewer attempts. Wicker came in third with a vault of 5.05 meters.

“For us the biggest thing was to relax,” Thomas said. “For Hayden that was big today because he definitely qualified for NCAA Regionals. We need to relax. Our workouts, practice and our weight training are all good but we have to relax to put it all together.”

Junior Marquise Goodwin leaped 7.67 meters for the top collegiate spot in the long jump and third place overall. He also went on to win the title in the 100-meter dash, clocking in at 10.44 seconds.

C.J. Jessett also dominated the field of racers in the 1500-meter run. The junior distance competitor was able to oust teammate Patrick McGregor for the top finish with a time of 3:44.70.

In the triple jump, Texas claimed the top two collegiate spots with performances by Mark Jackson and Jarard Bruner. Jackson’s leap of 15.02 meters earned him second place overall, just over Bruner’s mark.

In the 4x100-meter relay Jackson, Goodwin, Emerson Sanders and Trevante Rhodes showcased their wheels with a winning time of 40.18.

Rhodes also ran 21.05 in the 200-meter dash.

“I am happy to be dropping time but it is not to the point where it needs to be,” Rhodes said. “The fact that we have been more diligent in execution in practice and warming up has made a difference in how we do in the races.”

Men's Track & Field

Strong winds proved to be no match for the Longhorns’ determination as they surged ahead to claim seven titles in Saturday’s events at the Texas Invitational.

The windy conditions produced gusts reaching 20-30 mph throughout the day’s competition. But Texas simply decided to push all negative thoughts aside and power through it.

“This is exactly the kind of weather we can have at the end of the year,” said head coach Bubba Thornton. “Today will only prepare us for that. For the most part, we handled business today. There were a few mental mistakes, but that is why we have these kind of competitions — to work them out. The wind was not a positive for us but whatever the conditions are, we have to deal with them and beat people.”

Junior long jumper Marquise Goodwin started taking care of business the moment he stepped on the runway. On his first jump of the 2012 outdoor season, he leaped to a winning mark of 26-00.25 and tied for the fourth longest jump in the NCAA this season. Mark Jackson finished close behind in third with a 23-08.75, while multi-event athlete Petter Olson posted a mark of 14-11.25.

In the triple jump, Jarard Bruner finished third among the college athletes with his leap of 50-05.50.

Goodwin continued the trend with his performance in the 100-meter dash with the top collegiate time of 10.32 seconds. He was joined by five other teammates who also placed in the event. Jackson, Trevante Rhodes and Emerson Sanders clocked in at 10.34, 10.45 and 10.46 respectively. Alex Williams finished in ninth at 10.58 and freshman Aaron Scott came in 13th with 10.70.

Texas’ throwers have been reliable competitors all season, and remained consistent with their tosses on Saturday.

Senior Jacob Thormaehlen led the group with his third straight win in the shot put this season and is now the nation’s leader in the event. His second throw of 63-05.50 was enough to give him the edge and ultimately the title. After Thormaehlen, was Hayden Baillio in third and Will Spence in fourth. Blake Jakobsson competed in the event for the first time outdoors, and tossed a 49-07.25 for eighth.

Thormaehlen also finished second in the hammer throw with a heave of 187-11. Baillio posted his first mark of the outdoor season with 169-5 for seventh place. Jakobsson and Spence followed in eighth and 12th respectively.

Freshman Ryan Crouser finished as the top collegiate competitor in the discus, with mark of 182-0. Redshirt freshman Jakobsson came in next behind Crouser, posting a throw of 177-9.

Junior Maston Wallace made his outdoor debut in the pole vault and cleared 17-01.50 for the third best collegiate height and fourth place overall. Sophomore Mark Thomas cleared the same mark as Wallace and came in fifth.

The Longhorns continued to be in favor as they headed into the remainder of the running events.

Junior C.J. Jessett competed in his first 800-meter run of the year and claimed the top collegiate finish with a time of 1:51.50 seconds. Jessett was able to edge past teammate Kyle Thompson in the final strides of the race, as Thompson finished in 1:51.88 for second. Patrick McGregor, Kevin Rayes and Will Antkowiak also ran in the event, coming in fifth, ninth and 14th respectively.

Sheroid Evans made his outdoor debut in the 400-meter dash with a time of 48.24 seconds. The event was Evans’ first race of the outdoor season due to an injury he received in February at the Big 12 Indoor Championships.

Dereck Dreyer ran the anchor leg of the Longhorns’ winning 4x400 meter relay. Josh Brudnick and Isaac Murphy got the team off to a strong start in the first two laps, so by the time Evans passed the baton to Dreyer the lead was theirs. The team clocked in at 3:12.54.

“I saw Texas Southern ahead of us so I was thinking that I have to catch up to them,” Dreyer said. “I was thinking that they would be running pretty fast, so my first thought was to catch up and stay behind them but then I saw that I could take the lead. I caught him and never looked back.”

Isaac Murphy, right, runs in a Texas Relay event. He won the decathlon last weekend, but still feels he has a lot of areas to improve upon.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

Seeing him walk off the track at Texas Relays, sporting a huge smile as he became the new focal point of every flashing camera, you could almost see the imaginary cape draped across his shoulders.

But Isaac Murphy’s smile was actually one of shock and disbelief that he had accomplished something so great. What appeared to be an almost effortless series of events leading to his victory were nearly unbearable the week before.

“I was kind of nervous before Texas Relays because the week before, all the things that you’re supposed to take care of and feel good about, weren’t really happening for me,” Murphy said. “Things at school weren’t going that great and I was feeling sick a couple of days before. I didn’t feel like I wanted to feel. I felt flustered.”

Murphy felt pretty heavy-laden, like everything was crashing down on him on the week he needed to feel the most secure. Mental toughness and a fresh mind are crucial for decathletes and their success. But quite honestly, Murphy felt like his was completely blown.

And just when he thought his situation couldn’t get any worse, it did. Friday’s forecasted clear skies and warm weather suddenly transformed into rain showers. Sand pits turned to mud and the lanes lost their traction. But for Murphy, such a simple unexpected act of nature was enough to overhaul his entire outlook on the remainder of the weekend.

“I remember getting ready to line up for the 100 meters and it started raining,” Murphy said. “It felt good to feel the rain. And I thought to myself, ‘Are you going be upset about it or you going to relax and run anyway?’ I didn’t care about anything after that. In my head, that was the turning point.”

Eventually the drizzle stopped, but Murphy’s personal records kept coming. He set or matched personal records in seven of the ten events, joining former UT decathletes Trey Hardee and Aaron Fox as decathlon champions.

“I didn’t realize how much coverage our decathlon was going to get,” Murphy said with a smile. “We usually don’t get as much love as we did that weekend.” Murphy was most excited to see the multi-faceted sport expand its audience.

But what really got head coach Bubba Thornton’s blood pumping is a talented young athlete finally listening to his advice. On Thursday, while Murphy was sitting in the grass taking off his track spikes after clenching fourth place in the 1500-meter run, coach Thornton approached him.

“Now, what’s different about this feeling and the feeling you felt at Indoor Nationals sitting on the bench after getting 10th place?” Thornton asked. Murphy replied with a grin, “You told me to have fun Bubba, and I listened.”

In a whirlwind of events and a day filled with mixed emotions, Murphy couldn’t help but think of Bill Collins, the man who molded him into the competitor he is today.

Collins was more than Murphy’s club track coach at Collins Elite Sprint; he was the first man to ever have faith in Murphy’s future. While a student at Harker Heights High School in Harker Heights, Texas, Murphy’s grades weren’t the greatest and his home life had seen happier days. In need of a change, Murphy took his best friend up on an offer to attend track practice with Collins.

“Out of this bad situation that I was in, I met the greatest man I’ve ever known in my life,” Murphy said. “My club track coach Bill Collins. He really was a father figure to me. He taught me what was what, got my grades straight and motivated me to come to UT.”

As the stands of Mike A. Myers Stadium emptied and the last few congratulatory remarks were exchanged between Murphy and his competitors, he received an unexpected text message from world champion decathlete Trey Hardee.

“He told me congrats, and it felt good to hear that from the world champion in my event. But immediately after that text he sent another one that read ‘You left a lot of points out there on the track. You need to get ready to get out there and back to work.’”

Taking Hardee’s words to heart and realizing what separates competitors from champions, Murphy knows that he can do them all even better.

“I want to jump farther in the long jump because I know that I can. I want to throw a couple of feet farther in the shot put because I’ve done it in practice. I want to jump a few inches higher in high jump because I felt like I could’ve at Texas Relays. I want to run faster in the hurdles because I felt like my arms were loose during the race. I want to throw farther in the discus because my personal record is 10 feet farther than what I threw at Relays. I want to jump higher in pole vault because I know I can get on some bigger sticks come conference time. I want to throw farther in the javelin because I know the impingement in my shoulder will feel better by then.”

And no matter what challenges and setbacks the weeks ahead attempt to hurl at him, he’s already got his game plan set in stone. Practice is for working out the kinks and fixing all the small things. On meet days, Murphy will now be concerned with a much simpler goal: “Trust my training, trust my coach, and go out there with a smile. I think if it’s going to happen that day, it will.”

Printed on Friday, April 6, 2012 as: Decathlete Murphy pushing to build upon strong Relays

Goodwin finishes third in long jump

The Longhorns finished the indoor season with a 10th place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. This is the eighth time in the last nine years the Longhorns have finished in the top ten at the championship meet.

On Friday, Texas was represented by Hayden Baillio and Jacob Thormaehlen in the shot put. Both placed within the top ten, with Baillio placing fifth and Thormaehlen seventh.

Saturday, Keiron Stewart led the way with a fourth place finish in the 60-meter hurdlse, clocking a time of 7.68 seconds.

“We're still pleased with the outcome,” said Texas coach Bubba Thornton. “Hayden Baillio and Jacob Thormaehlen, it's quite an accomplishment from last year when they didn't make the finals to make the final. They're moving forward."

Long jumper Marquis Goodwin finished third in his event.

“Marquise couldn't make the adjustment on the board,” Thornton said. “He had several jumps that would have won it, but if they're not on the board then they just don't count.”

Florida took home the title at the end of the day, finishing with a total of 52 points. Behind the Gators were Texas A&M in second then BYU, LSU, and Florida State.

Texas now turns to the outdoor season that starts on March 25 with a tri meet against UCLA and Arkansas.