Virginia Tech’s women’s soccer coach, Charles “Chugger” Adair, benched Kiersten Hening for refusing to kneel before a game during the height of the BLM movement. Hening played for the Hokies from 2018 to 2020 and was talented enough to earn a spot as a walk-on starter in her freshman and sophomore years for the NCAA Division 1 program. After she refused to partake in woke BLM-style social justice protests, however, Hening claimed Adair verbally attacked her and then benched her. Now the school has agreed to settle the case with a six-figure payout for the former soccer player.
Hening’s case got a boost in December when federal Judge Thomas T. Cullen ruled against Adair’s motion for summary judgment. The Donald Trump appointee’s decision meant Adair would have to face his former student-athlete in a courtroom. The coach argued he had qualified immunity, and even if he did violate Hening’s constitutional rights, such rights were not clearly established. So he couldn’t be held liable for violating them. Cullen had none of it, denying the qualified immunity claim, writing, “[I]t has long been the law that state officials cannot retaliate against individuals or groups, including college students, for exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Adair verbally berated and abused his defensive talent. Not for her performance on the field but rather for her failure to perform as a BLM supporter. Hening refused to kneel before the season opener in September 2020 during the reading of a “unity statement,” whose text was not disclosed to players. Then she was benched before the second game. More verbal attacks followed, according to Hening, who resigned from her position rather than endure the tirades against her free speech and beliefs.
School’s Woke Crusade
Adair responded to news of the settlement with a tweet that said:
“Today, we have the clarity that this case lacked any standing, and without evidence, the truth has prevailed.”
Breathtaking. The statement’s confusion is reminiscent of the famous Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, whose overconfidence spilled into delusion. There was no legal challenge to standing presented, let alone a successful one, and the evidence of his malfeasance would have been presented at trial. That’s why such a proceeding is held.
Adair was acting in his official capacity as an employee of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and so that entity will be paying for his misdeeds. Virginia Tech is a state university legally bound to honor the First Amendment rights of its students but instead seems perpetually and openly hostile toward them. In addition to Hening’s case, the school is fighting a suit brought by Speech First, an organization dedicated to protecting free speech on college campuses. The group sued to have Tech’s “bias response team” ruled unconstitutional. The administration encouraged anonymous reporting of students’ speech and empowered the team to investigate the claims presented, hallmarks of intimidation against disfavored opinions.
Pity the taxpayers who have to fund these misadventures in woke ideology.
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