A former Virginia Tech women’s soccer player who refused to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter and was benched by her coach has won a $100,000 settlement.
According to Fox News, Kiersten Hening agreed to take the settlement to end her lawsuit against Virginia Tech and her former coach, Charles “Chugger” Adair, whom she had sued on First Amendment grounds.
Cameron Norris, Hening’s attorney, confirmed that the settlement did not include any admission of wrongdoing by either the school or the coach.
The three-day trial was set to begin in January but was canceled as the settlement was negotiated between Hening, her attorney, and the school.
Adair claimed in a post on Twitter that he was cleared of “any wrongdoing.”
The coach told his supporters, “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 disagreement about playing time. Today, we have clarity that this case lacked any standing, and without evidence, the truth has prevailed,” he added.
— CoachChugger (@CoachChugger) January 4, 2023
The most revealing part of his message is the fact that he deliberately failed to mention Hening’s $100,000 settlement, which was given by the school to make the lawsuit go away.
Adair’s omission of the settlement prompted a response from one of Hening’s attorneys, scoffing at the coach’s attempt to declare his innocence.
“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,” attorney Adam Mortara wrote.
Mortara went on to add that the school’s supposed “innocence” caused them to pay Hening the “equivalent of several years of tuition.”
Kiersten Hening was benched for her free speech and you paying a giant settlement proves it.
— Adam Mortara (@AdamMortara) January 4, 2023
The former Hokies midfielder filed the lawsuit last year, but the school attempted to have it thrown out. Hening argued in the lawsuit that her First Amendment rights had been violated when Adair benched her for refusing to kneel for the national anthem alongside the rest of her team members as part of a “unity statement” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Hening also claimed that she was targeted for harassment over her decision not to kneel.
Despite the school’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Thomas T. Cullen ruled in early December that the lawsuit could move forward.
There was plenty of evidence proving that the coach’s decision to bench Hening was out of the ordinary. According to Breitbart News, “The player notes that she was no bench-sitter, having played the third-most minutes of the team in 2019 and the most minutes in 2020 during her junior year. Also, Henning was a starter for 18 of the school’s 19 games in 2019. She also points out that she was considered such a solid player that the coaching staff selected her to speak to the media ahead of the recent season.”
However, all of this changed in September 2021 when coaches turned on Hening after the team met to discuss the idea of players wearing BLM-themed masks, wristbands, armbands, and shirts during warmups. The team also wanted to put names of supposed victims of police violence on players’ jerseys instead of their own names.
Adair also told the team that he supported kneeling during the national anthem, which Hening said was an idea that she had “quietly dissented” to.
Hening insisted in her lawsuit that she supports social justice and Black Lives Matter — but not the movement’s stated goal to destroy the traditional family, nor the act of kneeling during the national anthem.
The former soccer player said that she expressed her concerns in text messages to teammates, but some of those texts later became the focus of accusations of “racism” against her. She also stated that Adair went on a rant specifically about her during a September 12 game over her refusal to kneel during the anthem, adding that the coach launched a “campaign of abuse” against her. The harassment reportedly became so bad that she quit the team on September 20.