The ex-Virginia Tech soccer player who was allegedly penalized over her refusal to kneel during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest will reportedly be awarded a $100,000 settlement.
What's the background?
Kiersten Hening claimed that she had lost her starting position on Virginia Tech's Hokies women's soccer team after she elected not to take part in a so-called pre-game unity ceremony on Sept. 12, 2020, in support of the scandal-plagued BLM movement.
She indicated that her refusal was met by a "campaign of abuse and retaliation" launched by Hokies coach Charles "Chugger" Adair.
Hening had been a midfielder/defender for the team from 2018 to 2020.
According to the New York Post, she started 19 games in 2018 and played in 18 games in 2019.
The Hokies women's soccer website indicated that in 2019, Hening was "one of five Hokies to see more than 80 percent of the total team minutes played for the year, logging 1,665 total minutes of action, second most among field players."
Attorneys for the university counterclaimed that Hening had been benched for poor performance, and Adair suggested she had been replaced by another player who refused to kneel in solidarity with BLM.
Hening, allegedly benched for her conservative stance, subsequently filed a lawsuit against Adair in Roanoke Division of the United States District Court's Western District of Virginia on March 3, 2021.
TheBlaze previously reported that Federal Judge Thomas Cullen ruled on Dec. 2, 2022, that the lawsuit could proceed, denying a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
"Ultimately, Adair may convince a jury that this coaching decision was based solely on Hening’s poor play during the UVA game, but the court, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Hening, cannot reach that conclusion as a matter of law," said Cullen.
The suit claimed that Adair singled out Hening "and verbally attacked her, pointing a finger directly in her face. He denounced Hening for 'bitching and moaning,' for being selfish and individualistic, and for 'doing her own thing.'"
While Hening indicated in her lawsuit that she "supports social justice and believes ... black lives matter," she "does not support BLM the organization," taking issue with its "tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police."
Beyond castigating the player for refusing to signal agreeance with the claims advanced by BLM, the suit claimed that the coach had violated Hening's First Amendment rights.
The three-day trial scheduled later this month has been called off.
Roanoke Times reported that Hening will receive $100,000 as part of an agreement to dismiss her federal lawsuit.
Hening's attorney, Cameron Norris, indicated that — per the terms of the settlement which the university and state officials must still approve — this resolution does not require an admission of wrongdoing from either Hening or Adair.
In a poorly-received statement on Twitter, Adair wrote, "I am pleased the case against me has been closed and I am free to move forward clear of any wrongdoing. ... It's unfortunate, but this ordeal was about a disappointment and a disagreement about playing time."
Attorney Adam Mortara responded, "If by clarity you mean you are paying my client six figures in a settlement then you’re right that’s pretty clear. Honestly, Coach, read the Court’s opinion. You are paying. Defendants don’t pay in cases that have no standing."
Lawsuit: Soccer player claims refusal to kneel cost heryoutu.be