The University of Texas had no choice but to take action against Beverly Kearney, the Hall of Famer who led the school to six national championships. She resigned on Saturday after admitting to having had an affair with a former student athlete. It’s tragic but the school did what it had to do when it learned of the impropriety and placed her on leave in November.
Yeah, people can argue that what took place between Kearney and the unnamed athlete was consensual and that their relationship took place years ago. But universities have to avoid even the faintest whiff of sexual impropriety of any kind whatsoever. Even if they aren’t always spelled out, there should be certain boundaries between coaches and tudent athlete boundaries. Kearney crossed them when she entered into a sexual relationship with a student athlete.
Kearney became a national symbol of resilience after a 2002 accident left her partially paralyzed. Against the odds, she managed to walk again and return to coaching. I first read about her in “Holla Back but Listen First: A Life Guide for Young Adults.” I reached out to the book’s author, a friend of mine, Mister Mann Frisby, who told me, “I have nothing to say about her right now.”
She recently was honored for her accomplishments by BET.
Meanwhile, her attorney has issued a statement.
“We believe that Ms. Kearney has been subjected to a double standard and has received far harsher punishment than that being given to her male counter-parts who have engaged in similar conduct," he said. “It is a shame that this remarkably talented female African-American coach, who has devoted her life to helping others, is being bullied and scapegoated by the University of Texas.”
Kearney’s not being bullied. The University of Texas’ actions were justified. Still, it’s sad to watch a track and field legend like Kearney go down the way she has.