The story goes something like this: Europa is a beautiful woman from a wealthy aristocratic family. If she was around today, she’d be the subject of a reality television series, and she’d get into Twitter fights with Kim Kardashian all the time, and Lindsay Lohan would totally think she’s a bitch.
Anyway, there’s this super powerful guy, Zeus – kind of like a less benevolent version of Barack Obama, if Barack Obama was an omniscient dictator and not merely an elected official. Zeus sees her and he’s all like, “Whoa. I gotsta get me some of that.” But instead of just going up to her, and being like, “Yo, I’m Zeus, the father of gods and men. What’s up?” he decides on a different tactic.
He’s not really into the whole subtlety thing so he transforms himself into a white bull, joins up with Europa’s dad’s herd and starts stalking her from a distance as an animal. Typical. She spots this white bull, which probably looks something like that thing that the hockey player David Booth killed during the lockout. He’s unique looking, and so she wanders over to pet him. She pretty much gives him a belly rub, and then because he seems super domesticated, she jumps on his back, and is all like, “Giddy up.”
Zeus says, “Sweet,” and then he starts booking it across Greece with Europa straddling or sitting sidesaddle depending on how corrupt your imagination is. He gets to the sea and starts swimming all the way to this little Mediterranean island getaway. Once he gets there, he tells her that he’s actually Zeus – something that didn’t come up during the multi-hour abduction – and then he makes her his sex slave.
She’s not really into him at first, but eventually learns to love him, and he makes her a queen of the island and gives her lots of jewelry and cool stuff like a javelin that doesn’t miss no matter who throws it. He also aligned some stars, which in my opinion is a bit show-offy, to resemble the bull. It’s called Taurus, and I’m pretty sure that Ford calls one of their cars by that name, probably as an homage to the kidnapping rapist.
I bring this story up because there’s an important little Latin phrase that’s used in a dramatic retelling of this legend: Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi. The phrase is translated literally as “What is legitimate for Zeus, is not legitimate for oxen,” but is more liberally translated to “Gods may do what cattle may not.” It’s a phrase often used by people who want to be thought of as smarter than they actually are to indicate a double standard.
On Sunday, the University of Texas System’s Board of Regents met to discuss an incident from four years ago, in which assistant coach, Major Applewhite, then a quarterback coach with the school, was disciplined for an affair with a student trainer. His punishment for a consensual one-time indiscretion, not prohibited by the university, consisted of a stern letter from Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, an eleven month salary freeze and a requirement that Applewhite receive counselling. He quietly complied, and the issue was thought to be over.
According to Applewhite:
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.
While certainly a conversation could be had over what constitutes the business of an employer as it pertains to a distinctly personal bit of inappropriate behavior, at least the incident was handled internally, without anything resembling a media spotlight. In fact, it seemed likely that Applewhite, who was married at the time and remains in that same relationship, would have heard the last of the issue after completing his mandated counselling session. However, it wasn’t to be.
Last month, female track and field coach Bev Kearney, who has led her teams to seven national championships, was forced to resign after she admitted to having a relationship with a track athlete in 2002. As previously mentioned, the University of Texas doesn’t prohibit such relationships, but does have a policy in place that requires staff members to disclose such a relationship to a supervisor. Kearney kept the relationship, which lasted several months, a secret for ten years, finally admitting to it after a confrontation in November.
Now, with the threat of a potential lawsuit looming over the heads of Texas officials, the university reopened the Applewhite case only to take no direct action against the play caller for the school’s football team. Instead, the board released a statement promising that it will study its current policies regarding relationships between employees and students.
The review will include policies concerning disciplinary actions and procedures as well as compliance with policies for immediate notification of institution administration and the Board of Regents whenever and wherever policies are violated.
Obviously, there’s a large discrepancy between what happened to Applewhite and Kearney, and given the difference between the two in jobs (men’s football and women’s track and field) race (white and black), gender (man and female) and sexual orientation (heterosexual and homosexual), it’s important to investigate whether or not the dissimilarity of punishment was a matter of discrimination. While there certainly exists an urge to crucify NCAA institutions based on what’s progressively being seen as their exploitation of student athletes, I’m not so certain that this is the case that should force the University of Texas carry their cross.
The different “punishments” are for different “crimes.” Applewhite’s indiscretion with a student-trainer was said to be a one-time occurrence. Kearney conducted a relationship with a student-athlete over several months. Applewhite admitted to his inappropriate behavior immediately. Kearney kept it hidden until she was confronted with it. Applewhite was a running back coach. Kearney was the head coach.
The university has already latched onto this differentiation of status as a means of justifying the respective actions that it has taken.
In an interview with CNN, the Texas vice president of legal affairs, Patti Ohlendorf, referred to Kearney’s relationship with the student as “unprofessional and unacceptable,” further emphasizing that the relationship “crosses the line of trust placed in the head coach for all aspects of the athletic program and in the best interests of the student-athletes in the program.”
So, while it at least appears as though the administration isn’t executing a “what is legitimate for a white, heterosexual, male football coach, is not legitimate for a black, homosexual, female track and field coach” type of thinking, their means of attacking the already (presumably) ashamed woman to discourage a lawsuit is nearly as distasteful.
While the university will want the public to see Applewhite’s actions as worthy of less punishment than Kearney’s by highlighting the differences between the two. It should also be mentioned that a committed relationship seems far less morally repugnant than cheating on one’s partner. Additionally, far more time has gone by since Kearney’s mistake compared to Applewhite’s indiscretion. It’s likely not the best practice of universities to begin judging the weight of sins, but that’s essentially what the University of Texas is doing in potentially having to compare the circumstances between these two. What’s so objectionable is that their interest in such judgmental activity only lasts as long as it happens to protect their best interests.
What is legitimate for the protection of the University of Texas, is not legitimate for anything else.