Ex-Virginia Tech Soccer Player Settles For $100K To Dismiss Lawsuit For Not Kneeling During Team Social Justice Moment

Image Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

Ex-Virginia Tech soccer player Kiersten Hening has received a $100,000 settlement for her to drop a federal case against her former coach, Charles “Chugger” Adair, after being allegedly benched and forced off the team because she didn’t want to kneel during a pregame demonstration last September.

The $100,000 move to dismiss the case is unique as it amounts to a payout for not kneeling versus those who have protested to kneel in support of social justice reforms.

Discrimination For Non-Kneelers

Hening filed a federal lawsuit last month saying she and her coach and teammates often disagreed with her teammates on social justice topics during the heights of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hening is a 21-year-old white woman who was careful to clarify in the lawsuit that she “supports social justice and believes that black lives matter” but “does not support BLM the organization.” Additionally, she stated that she disagrees with Black Lives Matter, the organization’s “tactics and core tenets of its mission statement, including defunding the police.”

However, the settlement terms included no admission of wrongdoing by Hening or Coach “Chugger,” per Hening’s attorney, Cameron Norris of Arlington. The final agreement has to be approved by university and state officials before becoming final. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is a public land-grant university.

Hening played for the Hokies from 2018-2020 as a midfielder/defender and believed she was removed from her starting position based on a pregame incident in 2020. During a pregame reading of a “unity statement” on Sept. 12, 2020, many of her teammates knelt before their game against Virginia. Hening remained standing during the reading and claimed to be “verbally attacked” by Adair at halftime.

She detailed the abuse as Adair “verbally attacked her” at halftime, “b***hing and moaning” and putting his finger in her face. Hening claimed that Adair continued to berate her until he finally benched her. The culture became intolerable for her, and she ultimately quit the team.

The Judge’s Reaction

Presiding Judge Thomas Cullen dismissed an attempt to cancel the lawsuit by the coach, who noted that two other players who declined to kneel did not face reduced playing time.

“Hening, who had been a major on-field contributor for two years prior to the 2020 season, also asserts that Adair removed her from the starting lineup for the next two games and drastically reduced her playing time in those games because she had engaged in this protected First Amendment activity,” Cullen noted in his ruling. “As a result, Hening resigned from the team after the third game of the season.”

The judge noted that Hening’s time on the field fell off following the incident, which made the incident significant to Hening’s accusation.

“As a freshman, Hening averaged 76 minutes of playing time; as a sophomore, nearly 88,” Cullen wrote. “But during the Clemson game [the next game after the kneeling incident], Hening only played 29 minutes, and, at the UNC game, just 5.”

The judge was unmoved.

“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,” Cullen ruled.

The suit sets a new standard in opposition to pro-social justice protestations. It supports the feeling of being ostracized if a dissenting student doesn’t want to follow the new normal of accepting a kneeling stance to protest more significant issues in America. Reverse discrimination? The pressure placed on the university was possibly worth $100,000 to make the allegation disappear.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.