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Entries in University of Texas (4)

Monday
Jan072013

University of Texas Coach's Affair Exposed to Block Her Raise, Lawyer Suggests

Kirby Lee/WireImage(AUSTIN, Texas) -- The attorney representing a University of Texas track coach who abruptly quit over a 2003 affair with an adult student suggested Monday that the former lover was prompted to come forward to prevent the coach from receiving a raise and extended contract.

Bev Kearney, who has worked with the women's track and field team at the University of Texas at Austin since 1993, told ABC News Monday that she was "shocked" when the affair with the female student was revealed.

She was placed on leave in November, but she abruptly quit on Saturday after admitting she had a consensual affair with an adult who was a student-athlete between 2002 and 2003.

"Right now I'm in complete survival mode," Kearney, 55, told ABC News. She said that she has no immediate plans for her career.

Derek A. Howard, Kearney's attorney, said that he believes the timing of the disclosure by the now-30-year-old former lover is suspicious. The former student has not been identified.

"Bev had been offered a substantial $150,000 per year raise, to a five-year contract," Howard said. "That was in the works, and I think it's fair to say that this woman was put up to it by some other person, for the reason that the individual who put her up to it was resentful that Bev was being offered this."

"We can't say what evidence there is of that. But we can say it seems remarkable, let's say coincidental, the exact timing this report came out of the blue [was] when the athletic council was recommending that Bev be promoted, and offered a raise," he said.

Kearney's tenure at the university began in 1993. In the past 20 years, the Lady Longhorns have won six NCAA track championships.

University spokesman Nick Voinis did not directly address Howard's suggestion, but repeated the school's statement that as head coach, Kearney was "responsible for assuring the best interests of the student-athletes that he or she coaches," and that it "is unprofessional and unacceptable for a head coach to carry on an intimate relationship with a student-athlete that he or she is coaching."

"The university told Coach Kearney and Mr. Howard that we were prepared to begin the termination process. She chose to resign instead," Voinis said in a statement.

Over the weekend, Patti Ohlendorf, UT's vice president for legal affairs, said in a statement that it had begun to review this relationship in late October after the former student-athlete reported her prior relationship with Kearney.

The university said that it is believed that Kearney did not have other similar relationships with student-athletes while coaching at the school.

"Coach Kearney is a good person and has been very important to the university. However, she made this terrible mistake and used unacceptably poor judgment in having this relationship," Ohlendorf said.

Howard points out that the University of Texas does not have a rule that prohibits relationships between students and professors or coaches, but that the school states that the relationship must be reported.

"The rule she was fired for was not having the relationship, but failing to report. Ten years ago when this relationship started, that rule was brand new," he said. "We think there will be evidence that men who do this are not treated the same as this woman has been treated. That's gender and racial bias if white males engaged in same behavior." Kearney is black.

Voinis told ABC News, "The policy Mr. Howard mentioned to you is not the controlling factor in this case."

UT's student handbook indicated that -- if a policy applies to all faculty, staff and students of the university -- the teacher, supervisor or adviser has the obligation to disclose its existence to an immediate supervisor.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep142012

University of Texas, North Dakota U. and Valparaiso Disrupted by Threats

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A trio of universities were disrupted by violent threats this morning although all three campuses were later determined appear to be safe, according to the schools.

University of Texas president William Powers, Jr., said today that the school was "extremely confident" that the campus was safe and free of explosive devices as of 1 p.m. today, following a bomb threat placed to the school around 8:30 a.m.

Shortly after the University of Texas announced its bomb threat, North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., announced that it too had been the target of a bomb threat and was evacuating students. A third university, Valparaiso University in Indiana, announced that it had received a violent threat as well in the form of a graffiti message.

All three campuses have since been cleared. Officials said they do not yet know if the threats are related.

"There was always a question about the credibility of the threat. As you know there was a threat in North Dakota as well, so our evaluation continued, but we could not assure ourselves that this was not a credible threat, so we thought the prudent thing to do was clear the buildings," Powers said at a news conference today.

Around 8:30 a.m., the university received a phone call from someone with a Middle-Eastern accent who made an unspecific threat saying there were explosives in buildings on campus that would go off within 90 minutes to two hours, the university said. According to one message sent by the university to students, the man identified himself as part of Al Qaeda.

The university investigated the threats to evaluate their credibility before deciding to evacuate the campus buildings as a precaution, Powers said. Students were notified shortly before 10 a.m. to evacuate campus buildings.

Law enforcement officials then swept each building on campus to ensure that it was clear of any threats, Powers said.

Powers appeared along with the mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell, and chief of campus police, Robert Dahlstrom.

"We are very confident from working with state officials, our officials, and federal officials, we can't go into the details of why we know this, but we are extremely confident that the campus is safe," Powers said.

North Dakota State also cleared its buildings and residence halls of students, warning them that a bomb threat had been called into the school. Authorities there, aided by FBI officials, swept that campus to ensure there was no danger before reopening the campus this afternoon.

In Indiana, Valapraiso University also sent out an alert to students notifying them that a unspecified threat that might pose a danger to students during campus chapel time, around 11:15 a.m. The threat was made through graffiti, according to the school.

All three campuses announced that their schools were safe and clear of threats by 1:30 p.m.

The FBI said that it was helping local authorities investigate the threats and whether there was a connection among them.

In Texas, an FBI spokesman said that no arrests had been made yet but that law enforcement authorities were aggressively searching for the culprit.

"We are aggressively looking for this individual. We take these things pretty seriously for obvious reasons of public panic, the response of local authorities and that cost. We treat every one of these as if they're real until we know they are not," Erick Vasys.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

Texas' New Approach Tames Animal House Frats

Photo Courtesy -- University of Texas(AUSTIN, Texas) – After the deaths of two students, the University of Texas has turned to prevention education to tackle hazing.

Four years ago this month, Tyler Cross, a Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity pledge at the University of Texas, fell five stories from a dorm room window, dying upon impact. He was 18 years old and had a blood-alcohol content twice the legal limit.
 
The previous year, a Lambda Phi Epsilon pledge, Phanta "Jack" Phoummarath, was found dead with a blood-alcohol level of 0.41.

Law enforcement and university officials labeled both tragedies, while accidental, a result of hazing.

The umbrella of hazing includes not only drinking in excess, but many things students may not normally consider - personal servitude, partial nudity, calisthenics, eating contests and uncomfortable clothes, to name a few.

At UT, administrators and student organizations are working together to educate groups on how to run and develop their clubs and groups in a safe way.

This fall is the second full year for the "mutual agreement program," which begins after a fraternity, sorority or other university organization has violated the state's anti-hazing law. The program establishes a process, a sort of probationary period, during which the organization is re-evaluated, its members educated and is brought back into compliance without suffering severe penalties.
 
So far, 19 organizations have entered into this program, which was developed under the instruction of university president Bill Powers, who took office in 2006, the year Cross died.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Tuesday
Sep282010

UPDATE: Gunman at University of Texas Austin Identified as Sophomore Math Major Colton Tooley

Photo Courtesy -- Tamir Kalifa - The Daily Texan(AUSTIN, Texas) -- As previously reported, a gunman wearing a ski mask and brandishing a rifle entered a library at the University of Texas Austin Tuesday morning and fired several shots before taking his own life.  At a press conference Tuesday, police identified the gunman as 19-year-old math major Colton Tooley.  Tooley was seen running through the campus morning as classes started. He was wearing a dark business suit, carrying a rifle and shooting rounds into the air.  Police told ABC News that the investigation had moved off campus to a "house associated with the shooting."  Just before noon, a campus lockdown that had been in effect since around 8 a.m., was lifted, and police ended a search for a possible second suspect. "The armed suspect is dead. No other injuries have been reported," UT President Bill Powers wrote in a campus email.  Tooley was found dead on the sixth floor of the library from apparently self inflicted wounds, police said.  Police confirmed Tooley was carrying an AK-47, a military-grade combat rifle.  Police said they had not yet determined a motive.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio
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