[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he University of Texas Board of Regents held a special meeting Sunday afternoon to discuss Longhorn offensive coordinator Major Applewhite’s “inappropriate, consensual” relationship with a female UT student.
The incident occurred during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl festivities, and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said in a statement that Applewhite admitted to impropriety when the situation came to light and had been disciplined. The female was reportedly a trainer for the Longhorn football team, and Applewhite’s discipline included an 11-month salary freeze.
The Board met for more than two hours via conference call and recommended no further disciplinary action against Applewhite. UT system chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and board chairmain Gene Powell said in a statement (below) that the Board will conduct a review of all policies regarding relationships between UT employees and students, to including disciplinary actions and procedures.
The Applewhite story apparently came to light now – four years later – in the wake of Texas women’s track coach Bev Kearney’s resignation last month. Kearney admitted to having a long-standing intimate relationship with one of her track athletes and surrendered her duties as coach.
According to sources, Texas officials received word that Kearney’s attorney learned about the Applewhite situation and planned to take the story public as part of Kearney’s legal strategy. UT beat them to the punch with the Friday night announcement.
With no further disciplinary action planned, the ball now appears to be in Kearney’s court. Will she move forward with some kind of legal action against the school? If so, will Texas settle the matter or choose to fight what would likely become a very public battle?
Those questions remain to be answered, but as many struggles as the Horns have had both on and off the field of late, the last thing Texas needs is an off-season filled this kind of headlines.
Statement from UT System chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and board chairmain Gene Powell:
As leaders of The University of Texas System, our chief concern is and always will be the safety and welfare of the students at our 15 institutions. The No. 1 priority of all UT administrative leaders, faculty, staff and athletic personnel should be protecting our students and ensuring that their experience at any UT institution is a positive and safe one.
Today, we are announcing that Paul Foster, First Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents, will lead a dedicated and focused effort to review and study all policies in place concerning relationships between UT employees and students at all 15 UT institutions. The review will include policies concerning disciplinary actions and procedures as well as compliance with policies for immediate notification of institution administration and the Board of Regents whenever and wherever policies are violated. (Current UT System Rule 178 which went into effect November 1, 2012 covers these policies and requirements, but the rule will be reviewed for possible strengthening.)
We will reach out to national experts to assist in this review and will provide a timeline and announce more details over the next several days.
Our goal is to be both timely and thorough in building a model that can be used nationwide as an example of best practices in dealing with these critically important issues of student protection and student safety.