Former University of Toledo track and field and cross country director Kevin Hadsell resigned last month amid an investigation that uncovered evidence of a romantic relationship he had with at least one former athlete, and lewd interactions he had with another.
Copies of text messages obtained by The Blade through the Ohio open records act show Hadsell made advances toward an athlete in his program and interacted unprofessionally with her from September through January. That athlete, All-America runner Emma Kertesz, handed over messages and other evidence against Hadsell to the university’s human resources department, prompting the Jan. 24 resignation of the five-time Mid-American Conference women’s cross country coach of the year.
“I just felt I had to say something to prevent this from happening to somebody, specifically the women on the team that I care about deeply,” Kertesz, a Central Catholic graduate, told The Blade.
UT athletic director Mike O’Brien said Monday the university was prepared to fire Hadsell after determining he had been involved in an inappropriate relationship “two or three years ago” with an athlete. Hadsell, who coached the program for 15 seasons, told The Blade he dated a UT athlete 10 years ago, but that the more recent allegation was untrue.
“The one that I did was 10 years ago,” Hadsell, 42, said. “The one that I was accused of, I did not do.”
Hadsell showed an interest in Kertesz in an Oct. 7 text that read, “I’m into you.” Moments earlier Kertesz wrote that she was not interested in a relationship with him.
“There was more to the conversation than what was printed off,” said Hadsell, who has never been married. “A lot of this is out of the actual context, but it still doesn’t take away what I said, and I shouldn’t have said it.”
Hadsell added: “She initiated those conversations with me. I wasn’t just having those conversations out of the blue.”
Kertesz said she did not delete texts before turning over her cell phone to human resources. Parts of the text-message exchange between Hadsell and Kertesz that were blacked out by UT officials made some of their conversation indecipherable.
“Needless to say, I was really disappointed,” UT Athletic Director O’Brien said of the texts.
Two weeks earlier, on Sept. 21, an anonymous person telephoned UT Senior Associate Athletic Director Kelly Andrews and said Hadsell was dating a former athlete — a relationship the caller alleges began when the athlete was a member of the program. Kertesz said she was not the anonymous caller and that she does not know who was.
“At that time Kevin indicated there was no relationship,” O’Brien said.
Kertesz, who quit last month to pursue a professional running career, is a 2012 NCAA All-American in the 10,000 meters. She would have been a fifth-year senior in the upcoming track season.
Texts show the Hadsell-Kertesz relationship as once being ultra tight, as they shared inside jokes and discussed many things outside of running. In late October, weeks after Hadsell’s text advances, Kertesz ordered and presented her coach a bobble head doll in his likeness as a token of appreciation for helping her develop into an elite competitor.
“He played a major role in why I was so good,” Kertesz said. “He’s a good coach, very knowledgeable. I did owe him in that aspect.”
Their personal bond, Kertesz said, was not authentic.
“If I were to not respond to his texts, whether it be because I was busy or I was ignoring him, he would get upset at me and he would ignore me,” she said. “That would come in the form of not paying attention to my training. I felt I needed to be friends with him to get the training I needed to be good.”
Their interactions eroded in early December after Hadsell threatened to dismiss Kertesz from the program after she violated training orders he instituted for her. Kertesz said she ran on a scheduled off day.
“Need to get it together, man,” Hadsell wrote to her in a Dec. 5 text.
Kertesz soon quit the program only to rejoin because “I got the vibe he would have a hand in ruining my reputation.”
On Dec. 26 Kertesz, armed with the text evidence needed to get Hadsell fired, approached human resources. Days later Hadsell, who had been informed of a complaint, texted Kertesz to see if she had heard anything. She replied she had not.
On Jan. 8 the office of institutional diversity launched an investigation into inappropriate text messages, profane language, and inappropriate romantic advancements. The probe focused on whether Hadsell violated the university’s sexual harassment policy. He resigned two weeks later in a meeting with human resources.
“I should have never put her in a position where she felt this was the only option,” Hadsell said. “This was the root of everything, allowing people to get close to me.”
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.