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Texas to settle discrimination suit with former track coach

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The University of Texas has agreed to settle a race and gender discrimination lawsuit filed by former women’s track coach Bev Kearney, who was forced out of her job in 2013 after the school learned she had a relationship with an athlete a decade earlier.

Kearney, who is black, had claimed she was treated differently than a white former Texas assistant football coach who was allowed to keep his job and was later promoted after the school learned he had a relationship with a student trainer on a bowl trip.

“The parties have reached an agreement to settle this matter and the case will be dismissed,” Kearney attorney Jody Mask told The Associated Press. Texas spokesman Gary Susswein confirmed the school has agreed to settle. Terms were not disclosed and both sides declined further comment.

Kearney won six national championships (3 indoor, 3 outdoor) while at Texas. School officials have said they were justified in removing her after 20 years with the Longhorns because the relationship with one of her athletes “crossed a line.”

Kearney argued the school had been much softer with its discipline of former assistant football coach Major Applewhite for his behavior with the student trainer on the trip to the Fiesta Bowl after the 2008 season. Applewhite, a popular former Longhorns quarterback, was ordered to undergo counseling but stayed on staff until head coach Mack Brown was forced out after the 2013 season. Applewhite is now the head coach at Houston.

Kearney’s lawyers had questioned why the school publicly announced Kearney’s discipline, but Applewhite’s incident, which school officials called consensual, didn’t surface until nearly five years later when the Daily Texan student newspaper filed a public records request for his personnel file. University regents said they didn’t know about the Applewhite incident until 2013.

Kearney was one of the most successful women’s track coaches in the country and was considered for a significant raise in 2012 until the 2002 relationship with one of her runners was reported to school officials. She now lives in California.

The case lagged for years as Texas sought to have it dismissed until the state Supreme Court ruled in 2017 it could proceed. Kearney’s lawyers deposed Applewhite and several former top Texas officials, including Brown, former school President Bill Powers and former athletic director DeLoss Dodds as they probed how Texas handled the two internal investigations into Applewhite and Kearney. Her lawyers also took sworn testimony from officials in the school office that investigates complaints of sexual harassment and assault.

The depositions remain sealed under a court order. Texas argued they should remain confidential to protect private student information.

Kearney’s lawyers have long said they were willing to settle the case. Texas spent more than $500,000 to defend the lawsuit, according to financial records reviewed by the AP.

The Texas track program has been unsettled since the allegations against Kearney emerged. Texas turned the program over the Mario Sategna, who led the program for five years and won several Big 12 championships. But Sategna was placed on administrative leave in 2016 as Texas conducted an ethics and misconduct probe. Sategna was allowed to return to coaching in 2017 but Texas didn’t disclose any findings of its investigation.

New athletic director Chris Del Conte fired Sategna in January, saying he wanted to take the program in a “new direction.” Texas hired Edrick Floreal from Kentucky last week.

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