Bev Kearney, a Hall of Fame women's track and field coach at the University of Texas Austin, abruptly resigned last weekend, after a 2002 affair with an adult female athlete came to light.
Kearney, who coached the Lady Longhorns to six NCAA track championships since she took the reins in 1993, told ABC that she was "shocked" when the decade-old consensual affair came to light. Kearney's attorney said he believes the revelation was timed to keep Kearney from earning a raise and extended contract.
"Bev had been offered a substantial $150,000-per-year raise, to a five year contract," attorney Derek Howard told ABC. "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."
The former student athlete, who is now 30 years old, has not been publicly identified. Kearney acknowledged that the affair began when the athlete was a student in the 2002-2003 school year, and continued for less than two years. The relationship, which Kearney stresses was consensual and with an adult, ended more than eight years ago, which makes the timing of this report suspicious, according to her lawyer.
"We can't say what evidence there is of that," Howard told ABC. "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."
The University of Texas Austin does not have a blanket prohibition against coach-athlete relationships, but it does have a policy requiring that such relationships be reported to the university when they occur. Kearney failed to adhere to this policy, and University officials say that's why she was asked to resign.
"Coach Kearney is a good person and has been very important to the university," Patti Ohlendorf, UT's vice president of legal affairs, told ABC. "However, she made this terrible mistake and used unacceptably poor judgment in having this relationship."
Kearney, who was placed on leave in November, told ABC she is still reeling in shock, unsure what to do in her suddenly uprooted future. "Right now I'm in complete survival mode," said the 55-year-old.