University of Texas track coach Sategna under conduct probe

Saturday, October 15, 2016
University of Texas.

AUSTIN, TX -- For the second time in four years, a top University of Texas track coach is being investigated by school officials for alleged misconduct.

Longhorns head track coach Mario Sategna, who took indefinite personal leave last month, is the subject of an ethics and misconduct probe, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

University of Texas System officials confirmed the investigation in a letter to the state attorney general. University officials are seeking permission to withhold Sategna's personnel file and other documents sought by the AP under the Texas Public Information Act.

Those records relate to an "ongoing compliance investigation involving personnel matters being conducted by the university's legal affairs office" and the athletic department, system officials wrote Oct. 7.

"The university initiated the investigation in response to allegations of misconduct. The issues under review pertain to ethical questions and the standard of conduct relating to a university employee."

The nature of the alleged misconduct was not clear. Texas spokesman Gary Susswein said the school will not release details of the investigation but said it does not involve NCAA compliance or federal Title IX gender discrimination issues.

"As a policy, the university does not discuss personnel matters or release information that would compromise ongoing reviews," Texas said.

The 43-year-old Sategna has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

University of Texas officials are still fighting a lengthy legal battle with former women's head track coach Bev Kearney. Kearney was forced out in 2013 after the school learned she'd had a romantic relationship with one of her runners a decade earlier. Kearney has said the relationship was consensual and is suing the university for race and gender discrimination, arguing that male coaches who faced similar allegations in the past were allowed to remain on staff.

Sategna took over the men's and women's programs in 2013, and his teams won Big 12 titles in 2015. He also was an assistant throwing coach with the U.S. track team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where former Longhorns Ryan Crouser and Michelle Carter both won gold in the shot put.

According to documents obtained by AP, Sategna emailed men's athletic director Mike Perrin and women's athletic director Chris Plonsky on Sept. 6 to tell them he could not be at a campus event the next day because he had to attend the Big 12 track coaches meeting in Dallas.

On Sept. 11, university officials told staff and Sategna's team that the coach had requested personal leave, leaving associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey and assistant coach Ty Sevin in charge. It was not clear if Sategna requested the leave before or after the investigation began.