Texas Tech University officials didn’t take long to act, firing women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings the day after allegations of player abuse surfaced publicly.
USA TODAY’s Wednesday report detailed a culture of “fear, anxiety and depression,” while Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt reportedly released a Thursday statement announcing Stollings’ firing. Stollings was due to be paid $740,000 in 2020-21, on a contract that ran through the 2023-24 season.
The former Minnesota, Virginia Commonwealth, Winthrop and New Mexico State head coach spent two years at Texas Tech, leading the Red Raiders to a 32-28 record. During that time, 12 players left the program while allegations have been made against Stollings, strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella and assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins. Petrella resigned in March around the time a Title IX investigation was made against him, while Dawkins reportedly remains on staff.
Allegations against the coaches were released in a collaboration between USA TODAY Sports and The Intercollegiate. The reporters allegedly spoke with 10 players, two former assistant coaches and two parents.
Three players claimed Stollings made practices harder after abuse claims were made to Texas Tech officials, while five players alleged Petrella sexually harassed players; one player accused him of reaching under her bra and spandex sports in what he said was therapy; Emma Merriweather, who is now at Kansas, said she was mocked about her weight and admonished for showing symptoms of depression; international players were allegedly ridiculed, isolated and threatened; and coaches allegedly handed out extra conditioning and decreased playing time if players didn’t maintain a heart rate of at least 90 percent of capacity.
USA TODAY got statements from Hocutt and Stollings prior to releasing Wednesday’s report.
“Based on information received we conducted an in-depth program review of our women’s basketball program,” Hocutt said Tuesday, referring to an investigation into Petrella and the program earlier this offseason. “I have thoroughly discussed this review with coach Stollings and am confident that we are taking appropriate steps to improve the relationship and communication between coaches and student-athletes so that we can continue to grow the success of our program both on and off the court."
“We know change is difficult and that has been no different at Texas Tech,” Stollings said Tuesday. “Some wonderful young women have decided to leave our program and pursue their dreams elsewhere. I hope they have found everything they are looking for at their new destination.
"Our administration and my staff believe in the way we are building and turning this program around here. Our student athletes are developing a disciplined approach both on and off the court.
"I want our students, fans and alumni to know we are committed to winning championships at Texas Tech and doing it the right way through hard work, accountability and fierce determination."
Hocutt said he will hold a conference call Friday afternoon.