AUSTIN (KXAN) - Last fall, a coach in the University of Texas athletics acknowledged an inappropriate relationship with a student in 2002, which set off a chain of events that led to the coach's forced resignation.
Last week, it was released that a UT coach acknowledged an inappropriate relationship with a student in 2009 to his superiors, which led to the coach undergoing counseling and losing a substantial portion of his pay -- but not his job.
The discrepancies in disciplinary action taken against UT assistant football coach Major Applewhite and women's head track coach Bev Kearney brought questions to the table for University of Texas regents Sunday, leading to a review of policies regarding inappropriate relationships between employees and students.
In October 2012, Kearney admitted to having "an intimate consensual relationship" with a student-athlete in 2002. She resigned Jan. 5, right as Texas officials were in the process of firing her. Applewhite disclosed his relationship with a student in 2009 to superior, but the UT System is just now learning of the incident.
Criticism has emerged due to Kearney's harsher punishment, but circumstances and current UT policy has left a hazy line between what is and isn't completely impermissible.
In UT's Handbook of Operation Procedures , policy on consensual relationships states that the "the University strongly discourages consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students and advisors and students."
However, should such a relationship develop, "the teacher, supervisor or advisor has the obligation to disclose its existence to an immediate supervisor and cooperate in making alternative arrangements for the supervision, evaluation, teaching, grading, or advising of the employee, student and/or student employee."
In the Longhorn Intercollegiate Athletic Handbook, it states, "Members of the staff are expected to establish and maintain a standard of behavior which brings credit to themselves and to the Department."
As for consensual relationships though, the athletic handbook does not explicitly address the subject. Instead it states:
"[Athletic personnel are] subject to the same policies and regulations found in the University's Handbook of Operating Procedures governing all University employees. Violations of the Department's and/or University's policies concerning conduct and ethics are regarded as a 'failure to maintain work performance standards' and, as such, are subject to appropriate disciplinary actions to include an oral or written reprimand, suspension without pay, or termination of employment."
In a statement Friday night, Applewhite confirmed that he had reported the incident shortly after in occurred to his superior, UT men's athletic director DeLoss Dodds. Dodds said he reported to the university's legal office at the time and said Applewhite had been given appropriate punishment. Additionally, the student was confirmed to be a non-athlete.
Kearney, on the other hand, engaged in a relationship with her athlete, and did not disclose conduct immediately.
Patti Ohlendorf, UT's vice president for legal affairs, said in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman:
"In the case of a head coach and a student-athlete on his or her team, the University's position is that that cannot be condoned in any event," Ohlendorf told the newspaper. "‘It can't happen' is what the University's position is on that."
However, there is nothing within UT policy handbook or Longhorn athletic handbook that explicitly bans such conduct.
Additionally, neither Applewhite nor Kearney's conduct was reported to the UT System, which is required under UTS 178 which says:
"The University of Texas System Board of Regents is committed to exercising its oversight function by establishing an environment where significant allegations and investigations are reported to the Board in a timely fashion."
After Sunday's meeting, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell released a joint statement saying that Paul Foster, First Vice Chairman of the Board of Regents, will lead the investigation on past compliance with policies concerning relationships between UT employees and students and the effectiveness of those policies.
More than 100 trees covered in lights now shine bright throughout Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights is open for another season.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside of a vehicle which lost control during the icy conditions, DPS said.
Travis County non-profit Center for Child Protection will benefit next March from an all day fundraiser at the Circuit of the Americas that will see plenty of donors racing on the track.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg heads to court this week as a defendant in a civil trial that could oust her from office.
Santa visited Austin early on Sunday, joining hundreds of motorcyclists for their annual Toy Run.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.