UT settles discrimination lawsuit by former track coach Bev Kearney

Anna Lassmann

The University of Texas reached a $600,000 settlement for a race and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by Bev Kearney, a former UT women’s track coach, according to the settlement document obtained through an open records request.

Kearney, who was hired in 1992, was forced to resign in 2013 after UT officials learned of a long-term relationship with one of her athletes that had taken place a decade prior. Kearney argued she was given a harsher punishment because she is a black woman, the lawsuit states. In September 2012, five months before she left, Kearney was presented with a potential five-year contract, which included a salary increase, according to the lawsuit.

“She has been harassed and discriminated against because of her gender and race and was terminated in retaliation for having complained of discriminatory treatment,” the lawsuit states.

During her time at the University, Kearney earned six NCAA national championships, was an NCAA coach of the year five times and was a 16-time conference coach of the year. Prior to Kearney’s resignation, she was the first and only black head coach in any sport in the history of the University, according to the lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Kearney compared her punishment to that of Major Applewhite, a white former assistant football coach who had a short consensual relationship with a student trainer on a bowl game trip in 2008, according to the lawsuit. Applewhite was required to undergo counseling after the incident but was later promoted, unlike Kearney who was told she would be terminated if she did not resign.

The lawsuit began in November 2013, nine months after Kearney’s resignation, but it stalled when UT asked the Texas Supreme Court to throw out the case in August 2016. The Court allowed it to continue in 2017. Kearney agreed to settle the lawsuit in June, the Statesman reported.

The University spent more than $500,000 defending the case. Additionally, in the settlement agreement Kearney will receive $277,452.10 and the Jody R. Mask PLLC law firm, who represented Kearney, will receive $322,547.90, according to the settlement document.

According to the original complaint, Kearney sought $1 million damages. The University has now spent $1.1 million on the case.