Major Applewhite

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Update: Texas, Major Applewhite situation

The Texas Board of Regents recommended no further disciplinary action toward Major Applewhite. (Photo: US Presswire)

The Texas Board of Regents recommended no further disciplinary action toward Major Applewhite. (Photo: US Presswire)

[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.

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Will the Major Applewhite story go away quietly?

Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite had an 'inappropriate, consensual' relationship with a student. (Photo: US Presswire)

Major Applewhite had an ‘inappropriate’ relationship with a student. (Photo: US Presswire)

[dropcap]U[/dropcap]niversity of Texas officials have clearly mastered the art of the Friday news dump.

Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds dropped a potential bombshell Friday evening, releasing a statement (below) that Longhorn offensive coordinator Major Applewhite engaged in “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student.”

The statement said it was one-time incident that occurred during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl activities. Dodds said that he learned about the incident shortly after it happened and took immediate action to discipline Applewhite.

“We promptly initiated an inquiry with assistance from the university’s Legal Affairs office and other units outside of Athletics,” Dodds said in the statement. “Major admitted his inappropriate conduct and he was disciplined.”

Applewhite, who played quarterback at Texas from 1998-2001, was hired away from Alabama prior to the 2008 season and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011. In a separate statement, Applewhite called the situation “regrettable” and said that he was “upfront and took full responsibility” for his actions.

“This is and was resolved four years ago with the University.” Applewhite said in a separate statement “Through counsel I have worked with my wife and the incident is behind us. I am regretful for my mistake and humbled by this experience. I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment it has caused my friends, family, and the University.”

The story is coming to light now in the wake of another scandal between a Texas coach and a student. Earlier this month, Texas women’s track and field coach Bev Kearney resigned after admitting she had an “intimate consensual relationship” with a student-athlete.

The Texas Board of Regents has called a special meeting for Sunday, Feb. 3 to discuss the Applewhite situation.

The Applewhite and Kearney cases are clearly intertwined, and despite Dodds’ statement that Applewhite has punished appropriately, Austin American-Statesman columnist Cedric Golden believes the situation will not go away. According to Golden:

As part of his punishment, Applewhite had his paycheck frozen for nearly a year. But he kept his job, unlike Kearney who would have probably been fired had she not resigned. Kearney’s attorney Derek A. Howard raised the possibility of legal action in the days following her resignation and told media outlets he would file an open records request, presumably to examine punishments handed to male coaches and professors in similar positions.

Could a lawsuit by Kearney be in the offing? Its looks like a strong possibility.

If that’s the case, this might be one Friday news story that doesn’t go away quietly into the night.

 


Statement from DeLoss Dodds

“Major Applewhite engaged in inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student one time during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl activities. After learning of his behavior later that month, I took immediate action to review the situation. We promptly initiated an inquiry with assistance from the university’s Legal Affairs office and other units outside of Athletics. Major admitted his inappropriate conduct and he was disciplined. In determining appropriate discipline, we analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the behavior and its relation to job responsibilities. Major fully accepted his discipline, including counseling. We have high standards for behavior and expect our staff and coaches to adhere to them in all aspects of their lives. I believe that the appropriate discipline was taken in this case.”

Statement from Major Applewhite

“Several years ago, I made a regretful decision resulting in behavior that was totally inappropriate. It was a one-time occurrence and was a personal matter. Shortly after it occurred, I discussed the situation with DeLoss Dodds. I was upfront and took full responsibility for my actions. This is and was resolved four years ago with the University. Through counsel I have worked with my wife and the incident is behind us. I am regretful for my mistake and humbled by this experience. I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment it has caused my friends, family, and the University. I appreciate all of them. I’ve learned and grown from this and look forward to my work at Texas.”

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