Apples To Apples (With No Applewhites)

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.

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8 thoughts on “Apples To Apples (With No Applewhites)

  1. Is he related to Pat Summitt?

    I recently heard about a coach who made a rule preventing her (I believe it was a her) female players from having “nonprofessional relationships”. Which is really poor and confusing wording. College players are by definition nonprofessional. And friendships are technically nonprofessional.

    To be honest, I can see the value in a ban on intrasquad dating… It could have a real effect on morale. But why is this rule being made by an individual coach instead of school wide by the AD?

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  2. the student that Applewhite had sex with was not under him

    Stands to reason that who’s on top makes a huge difference in Texas.
    Also, the lights: off or on.

    In Illinois, it is a criminal offense for any teacher to have sex with a student, even at the collegiate level.
    Other states encourage that sort of thing, from what I understand.

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    • It is criminalfor an adult professor to have sex with an adult student? Is it considered rape?

      I can see why universities would want to prohibit this behavior. I could see why public universities might set these policies at the state level. But to make it criminal? Absent a specific complaint/victim, I’m really struggling with that.

      Then again, maybe some of my male privilege is showing through? Even though professor/student relationships are not limited to male professor/female student pairings…

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      • Age and consent are irrelevant. It is essentially the leveraging of the power differential and quid pro quo which are criminalized. There is no way that could be entirely neglected in a relationship involving a teacher and student.
        It’s been that way since 1988.
        There are signs posted all over the place about it.

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        • Thanks for clarifying. That is interesting.

          I assume it is the professor who is guilty of the crime, yes?

          I fully recognize the potential for abuse and all that you mention. I just don’t think all of those are necessarily realized every time a professor and a student (and I’m thinking primarily of adult graduate students here) have a relationship. So to criminalize the behavior stands out to me.

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