Ungag President Powers

UT President William Powers Jr. is “under a gag order of sorts when it comes to speaking publicly about the issue of inappropriate relationships between university employees and students,” the Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday. According to the newspaper, the UT System Board of Regents has “asked Powers to refer questions relating to a football coach and former track and field coach to the [Board of Regents].”

The football coach is Major Applewhite and the former track and field coach is Bev Kearney. Both were recently revealed to have had consensual relationships with adult students (in Kearney’s case, a student-athlete). When The Daily Texan revealed Applewhite’s affair last week through an open records request, it was the first time the Regents had heard about it. The Regents called an emergency meeting, the result of which was a statement from Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Gene Powell announcing a review of UT policies on inappropriate relationships.

A spokesman for the UT System said in an email to the Statesman, “UT-Austin can certainly respond to any UT-Austin-centric questions as they deem appropriate. Questions about policies and procedures and the review to be led by Vice Chairman Foster are to be referred to UT System.” But Patti Ohlendorf, UT-Austin vice president for legal affairs, told the Statesman, “The UT System legal office and UT-Austin legal office agreed we weren’t going to be making any more public statements about the cases at this time.”

We say let Powers talk. We want to hear what he has to say.