A long while back, I jotted a short post comparing the treatment of two coaches at the University of Texas. Football offensive coordinator (at the time) Major Applewhite was caught having sex with a student and was let off with a slap on the wrist. This was revealed when track coach Bev Kearney was caught having sex with one of her runners and summarily fired. This was presented as something of a double-standard on account of sexual-orientation or race, and maybe it was to some extent. But there were also some rather critical differences. Specifically, the student that Applewhite had sex with was not under him in any organizational chart, while Kearney was the coach of the student in question.

Counterfactuals are hard. My view of the Applewhite situation was that he benefited greatly not only because of the org chart but because he was something of a hero who had stored up a lot of goodwill while that’s not the case with Kearney. I don’t honestly think that sexual orientation played a roll with Kearney, though, because coaches having sex with players is something that you just don’t do and get to keep your job. Or do they?

We finally have something closer to an apple-to-apple comparison on at least part of the equation. Louisiana Tech coach women’s basketball head coach Tyler Summitt has resigned upon the revelation that he had a relationship with one of his players:

“It is with great regret that I resign from my position as head coach of the women’s basketball program at Louisiana Tech University,” he said in a statement released by the university Thursday. “I am profoundly disappointed in myself for engaging in a relationship that has negatively affected the people I love, respect and care about the most.

“My hope, plans and prayers are to repair those relationships. I am appreciative of the opportunity I was given to coach at Louisiana Tech. I am heartbroken that my time has ended in Ruston, [Louisiana], but because of my respect for the institution, it is best that I resign. I am hopeful the media and the public will respect the privacy of my family and me as we deal with this difficult situation I have caused.”

This is a resignation rather than a firing, but it was the obvious result. Unlike Applewhite, Summitt was not a hero at Louisiana Tech, but the Summitt is a big name in college basketball to the point that the storied Louisiana Tech women’s basketball program* was willing to hire him at the crisp young age of 25. There also may be a pregnancy involved.

So yeah, if you’re a coach at the collegiate level, straight or gay and black or white, don’t have a sexual relationship with your players.

* – I’m not being sarcastic. There are only three women’s programs that have won over 1,000 games, and Louisiana Tech is one of them. Another is Tennessee, where Tyler Summitt’s mother alone racked up over 1,000 wins.


Category: Newsroom

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3 Responses to Apples To Apples (With No Applewhites)

  1. fillyjonk says:

    When I hear stories like this (there has been a raft of teacher-having-inappropriate-relationship-with-student in the schools in my state), I always see if they give the age of the teacher.

    Because I’m a college prof. I’m 47. The idea of dating any of my students, even once they were former students – no, just, no. Even beyond all the ethical squickiness. Too much of an age difference. A guy in his 20s is going to have almost nothing in common with me. (And I know, I know: there’s not a lot of TALKING that probably goes on in these relationships, but then again,, “benefits without necessarily being friends” is not how I roll)

    I’m always amazed someone would jeopardize their career for “a bit of fun.” Surely singles bars still exist?

    • trumwill says:

      One of the things that seemed notable to me is that the coach in question is in his mid-twenties. Putting him in charge of young women a few years his junior seems to be inviting trouble a bit. I mean, having young coaches as assistants is unavoidable because they have to start somewhere, but at least then you have head coaches overseeing them pretty directly.

      • fillyjonk says:

        That’s why I always check ages. Almost every “offender” I’ve heard of has been in their 20s, and “offending” with a high school student.

        In several cases, had it not been for the teacher-student relationship, it would actually have not been criminal (student was over 18) but still – it’s wrong when there’s that power relationship there.

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