UT student paper broke Applewhite story

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The University of Texas sent out a release Friday concerning the disciplinary actions taken with Texas Football Assistant Coach Major Applewhite. News surfaced of an inappropriate relationship between Applewhite and a student, leading up to the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

But what triggered the response, years after the incident? Campus newspaper The Daily Texan was behind an open records request.

Managing Editor Trey Scott says he and others at The Daily Texan are making a concerted effort to break big news stories.

“Instead of just covering events and things around campus, we really wanted to start to try to be a player in the Austin news scene,” Scott said.

They listened closely to comments from former head coach of the women’s track and field team, Bev Kearney. Earlier this year, the longtime coach was forced to resign for having a consensual relationship with a student-athlete she coached. Kearney’s relationship began 2002 and ended, according to the University, about eight years ago.

In an interview with CNN, Kearney said, “Has everyone else been terminated (for) having had a relationship? And the answer was, ‘We don’t view those the same as yours.'”

The Daily Texan saw an opportunity.

“We did an open records request in early January,” Scott said, “Our news editor submitted one to UT with the keyword ‘inappropriate relationship’ or ‘inappropriate conduct.'”

What turned up, Scott says, was a surprise. And it was their story.

They received a January 2009 letter that was sent from UT Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds to then running backs coach Major Applewhite.

In the letter, it states, “Some of your conduct in Arizona was inappropriate.”

“We got the letter back, and I was like, ‘We’ve got to do something right now,'” said Scott, “‘Let’s just get a blog up with the letter and make sure we have our name on it.'”

That was Friday, and they did. The Daily Texan web traffic spiked so quickly, the site crashed. Just as soon as they posted the story, UT released the official statement to the media.

Scott says he and The Daily Texan staff are beginning to realize the impact their work is having.

“What we did maybe is going to spur some action from the athletic department and the University of Texas systems going forward, which of course, is a good thing,” Scott said.
 
KXAN check up on the school’s current policy. Regarding consensual relationships, it states:

 “…the University strongly discourages consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students, and advisers and students. Should such a relationship develop, the teacher, supervisor, or adviser 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, or student employee.”

University of Texas regents Sunday ordered a review of policies regarding inappropriate relationships between employees and students after a two-hour, private telephone meeting to discuss incidents involving assistant football coach Major Applewhite and former women’s head track coach Bev Kearney.

Applewhite had released a statement Friday night that said:

“Several years ago, I made a regretful decision resulting in behavior that was totally inappropriate. It was a one-time occurrence and was a personal matter. Shortly after it occurred, I discussed the situation with DeLoss Dodds. I was upfront and took full responsibility for my actions. This is and was resolved four years ago with the University.

Through counsel I have worked with my wife and the incident is behind us. I am regretful for my mistake and humbled by this experience. I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment it has caused my friends, family, and the University. I appreciate all of them. I’ve learned and grown from this and look forward to my work at Texas.”