Former Virginia Tech soccer player Kiersten Hening received a six-figure settlement for dropping a federal lawsuit against the coach she claimed had benched her for refusing to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter.
According to a report from The Roanoke Times, Hening accepted a settlement of $100,000 to walk away from the suit — and her attorney, Cameron Norris, also confirmed that the settlement did not require either party to admit to any wrongdoing.
Hening was a starter on the team during her freshman and sophomore seasons — but she claimed that she was benched after she chose not to take a knee during a pregame unity ceremony that was planned to show support for Black Lives Matter shortly after the death of George Floyd.
She blamed Charles “Chugger” Adair, the women’s head soccer coach, saying that he had scolded her during halftime at that game. She said that he then limited her field time and claimed in the lawsuit that she had been punished for simply exercising her First Amendment rights. She ultimately quit the team two games later, saying that the coach had engaged in a “campaign of abuse and retaliation” against her.
The suit, which was filed in March of 2021, asked that Hening be reinstated to the team and that she be given an undisclosed amount in damages. However, Hening graduated in the time that lapsed since the suit was initially filed — and she does not intend to return in order to finish out her eligibility.
She also noted in the suit that she supported social justice initiatives, but that she did not support Black Lives Matter as an organization over concerns about its “tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police.”
Adair, who is still the head women’s soccer coach at Virginia Tech, released a statement following the settlement, claiming that he had been vindicated and adding, “I am pleased the case against me has been closed and I am free to move forward clear of any wrong doing … 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.”
— CoachChugger (@CoachChugger) January 4, 2023
The settlement is not final until state officials and officials at Virginia Tech have reviewed and approved it.