Around the Nation (Feb. 3): Texas regents reviewing policy following coach affairs

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

FOOTBALL

UT regents to review policy after coach affairs

AUSTIN, Texas — 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.

The call between the regents, their legal staff and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa was scheduled after the disclosure Friday that Applewhite, the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator, had been disciplined by the school in 2009 for his conduct with a student during a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Applewhite was ordered at the time to undergo counseling and his pay was frozen for a year. The regents did not order any further discipline against him after Sunday’s meeting.

The revelation about Applewhite’s conduct almost a month after Kearney resigned while under investigation for a 2002 relationship with an athlete in her program. Texas officials have said they were in the process of firing her.

“As leaders of the University of Texas System, our chief concern is and always will be the safety and welfare of the students on our 15 campuses,” regents Chairman Gene Powell and Cigarroa said in a joint statement.

“The No. 1 priority of all UT administration leaders, faculty, staff and athletic personnel should be protecting our students and ensuring that their experience at any UT institution is a positive and safe one,” the statement said. Regents Vice Chairman Paul Foster would lead the policy review.

In both cases, the university has said the relationships between the coaches and students were consensual. But Kearney’s lawyer, Derek Howard, has suggested the track coach was treated unfairly and may sue the university. Howard did not immediately respond to an email message.

Obama has concerns about youth football

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the threat of concussions for football players means that everything possible should be done to improve their safety — especially players from youth football leagues through college.

He said in an interview on CBS during Sunday’s Super Bowl pre-game show that he’s not as worried about pro football players, because they are adults who know the risks and are well compensated.

Obama, who has two daughters, reiterated his position that, if he had a son, he would have to think about whether he would let him play football.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who also has two daughters, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier Sunday that he would “absolutely” want his own child to play football. He emphasized that the NFL is funding research to learn more about the risks and changing rules to make the game safer.

The president, who says he’s a big fan, says the game is likely to evolve and some players and fans may be frustrated. But he’s glad there is extensive research under way to learn more about concussions.

Goodell “absolutely” would let son play

NEW ORLEANS — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would “absolutely” want his own child to play football.

After President Barack Obama recently said he’d “have to think long and hard” about allowing a son to take part in the sport, Goodell was asked the same question hours before Sunday’s Super Bowl during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Like the president, Goodell has two daughters. The commissioner deflected the question about allowing a son to play football by noting the high incidence of concussions in girls soccer.

In an interview with The New Republic, Obama had said he loved football but worried about the long-term effects on players of the game’s hard hits. Thousands of former players have sued the NFL, alleging that not enough was done to inform them about the dangers of concussions and not enough is being done today to take care of them.

In Sunday morning’s interview with Bob Schieffer, Goodell declined to confirm that there is a proven connection between the sport and medical problems in retired players. He emphasized that the NFL is funding research to learn more about the risks.

SOCCER

First woman calls men’s soccer game in Germany

BERLIN — German soccer fans are hearing an unfamiliar voice, with a woman providing commentary on a men’s soccer game on national TV for the first time.

Christina Graf became the country’s first female commentator at a men’s professional soccer game when she called Hertha Berlin’s 5-1 win at Jahn Regensburg in the second division Sunday.

The 27-year-old Graf beat out around 1,200 applicants to win a casting show for her new job with broadcaster Sky.

BASEBALL

Inspiration for “A League of Their Own” dead at 88

LOS ANGELES — Lavonne “Pepper” Paire-Davis, a star of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s and an inspiration for the movie “A League of Their Own,” has died. She was 88.

Her son William Davis tells The Associated Press that Paire-Davis died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Paire-Davis was a model for the character played by Geena Davis and served as a consultant on the 1992 film.

In 1944, she joined the women’s baseball league, created in fear that World War II would interrupt Major League Baseball, and played for 10 seasons. She was a catcher and shortstop, and helped her teams win five championships. She chronicled her baseball adventures in the 2009 book “Dirt in the Skirt.”

She’s survived by two sons and a daughter.

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