Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite's weekend itinerary was supposed to be filled with wining and dining elite prep running back Dontre Wilson. Instead, he's getting hauled up in front of the school's board of regents to discuss an "inappropriate relationship" with an "adult student."
Solidifying its reputation as college football's Sodom and Gomorrah, the Fiesta Bowl provided the backdrop for what Texas is emphasizing was a "one-time" encounter in 2009 between Applewhite and the unnamed student. In statements issued late Friday night (when do you release bad news?), Applewhite and athletics director DeLoss Dodds revealed that Applewhite had been disciplined by the school after the then-running backs coach had admitted to the transgression within a month after it had occurred.
So, why is this all coming out now?
My guess is that it has something to do with last month's resignation of Bev Kearney, Texas' longtime women's track coach. Kearney offered her notice after acknowledging that she had carried on a relationship with one of her athletes in the early 2000s. Kearney's attorney has raised the possibility of a gender and race bias lawsuit against the school, claiming that male employees of the school had escaped discipline for similar relationships.
(Note that in his statement, Dodds made a point to state that Applewhite's relationship was with an adult, it wasn't prolonged and he was disciplined at the time. Then there's this part: "In determining appropriate discipline, we analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the behavior and its relation to job responsibilities.")
In January 2011 Texas paid an athletics department employee $400,000 to settle a sexual harrassment claim against ex-director of football operations Cleve Bryant. Bryant was canned by the school two months later, although he has denied the allegations against him.
Whether or not Applewhite can avoid a fate similar to that of Bryant remains to be seen. His situation clearly puts the Longhorns in a bind, however.
In terms of on-the-field concerns, embattled Texas coach Mack Brown just elevated Applewhite to the role of offensive coordinator and play caller in December to replace Bryan Harsin. If Applewhite is out, that can't help a program aiming to get back to the upper echelon of college football.
Off the field, Brown has built his program's culture around the concept of establishing a family-like atmosphere. Between Applewhite and Bryant, that now looks like a far tougher sell on the recruiting trail.
Moreover, the incident will likely add to growing discontentment with Brown and the direction of the football program as of now. When all is said and done, Dodds, the king of college athletics' Big Swinging Dicks, may start hearing calls for him to step down as well.