Athletics official fired over sexual harassment complaint

Sarah White

President William Powers Jr. fired a senior UT Department of Athletics official on the basis of a sexual harassment complaint, according University documents that surfaced last week.

Powers wrote a letter to Cleve Bryant, associate athletics director for football operations, informing him of his employment termination on March 23, 2011, according to an investigation summary released to the public under the Texas Public Information Act. The University did not previously release the official cause of Bryant’s termination, although it came in the aftermath of a sexual harrassment suit.

An employee complained to UT administrative personnel in August of 2010 that Bryant had sexually harassed her verbally and sent her inappropriate text messages. She also alleged that Bryant had sexually harassed her physically in July 2010. The employee filed a formal written complaint Oct. 5, 2011, and her allegations were investigated by University officials.

Bryant denied her allegations then and has maintained that he did not sexually harass any employee, said his attorney Thomas Nesbitt. According to the investigation summary, Bryant appealed his termination decision to Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost. A full evidentiary hearing was conducted on Aug. 17-18, 2011 and Leslie upheld Bryant’s termination.

In January 2011, the University negotiated a $400,000 settlement with the employee who made the complaint. In return, she released the University and all UT officers and employees from all legal responsibility.

Patricia Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs, said she cannot comment on the specifics of the case because it is University policy to not publicly discuss sensitive personal matters.

“I can reiterate that the University does not tolerate sexual harassment in any form and we have a strong policy that prohibits it,” Ohlendorf said. “The University began investigating the allegations as soon as we learned about them and took appropriate action.”

Printed on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 as: Documents confirm cause of firing