Home Virginia Tech soccer player who blamed benching on politics gets $100K settlement

Virginia Tech soccer player who blamed benching on politics gets $100K settlement

Chris Graham
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Photo: Virginia Tech Athletics

A Virginia Tech soccer player blamed her benching on her politics, and sued the school, which paid $100,000 to settle the suit, then affirmed its support for the coach.

The suit was filed by Kiersten Hening, who alleged that she lost her starting position on the team after she refused to kneel during a unity ceremony at the beginning of a 2020 game.

Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock and a group of 76 current and former Hokies women’s soccer players are standing with Tech soccer coach Chugger Adair in the dispute.

The terms of the $100,000 settlement reached by the two sides last week included no admission of wrongdoing on the part of either Adair or Hening, who has since graduated from Virginia Tech.

A three-day civil trial had been scheduled to start later this month.

Babock issued a statement of support for Adair, who was hired in 2010 and has a 148-75-24 record in 13 seasons at the helm, including a 10-7-2 mark in 2022.

“Coach Adair has positively impacted so many student-athletes’ lives evidenced by the statement released earlier today by more than 70 current and former players,” Babock said. “Virginia Tech supports and believes in Coach Adair. His integrity is highly regarded throughout the soccer landscape, and his coaching abilities have brought unprecedented success to our women’s soccer program. The university looks forward to Coach Adair being a part of our athletics family for many years to come.”

Adair issued a statement via Twitter in which he said he is “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,” Adair tweeted. “Today, we have clarity that this case lacked any standing, and without evidence, the truth has prevailed.”

Attorneys for Virginia Tech were prepared to present evidence showing that two other Hokies players declined to kneel during an ACC unity statement at a 2020 game and suffered no negative consequences.

“Coach Adair’s explanations have been consistent — Hening’s play contributed to his decision for a line-up change,” the attorneys for Tech wrote in court papers.

Hening’s side was planning to argue that she was benched for her conservative political views after starting in her freshman and sophomore years.

Hening quit the team two games after her benching, and filed suit in 2021.

The statement from the current and former players backing Adair called Hening’s claims “baseless.”

“We have spent countless hours training, traveling and playing under his leadership and are devastated and appalled to see his character and integrity severely impugned,” the statement read. “As current and former players, we understand women’s collegiate soccer is demanding both physically and mentally, as well as exceptionally competitive. In this regard, we all believe that his behavior, both past and present, has consistently been of the highest professional caliber. We believe that Coach Adair has and will continue to the best of his ability put the team in situations to compete at the highest level.

“Today, we join together to affirm that Coach Adair’s leadership has made each of us better players, teammates, and people. We stand by Coach Adair and Virginia Tech, and what we believe is the truth. And we look forward to the bright future of the Virginia Tech Women’s Soccer Program under his guidance.”


Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].