Marlene Stollings Fired as Texas Tech Head Coach amid Abuse Allegations

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2020

Texas Tech coach Marlene Stollings talks to Chrislyn Carr during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)
Brad Tollefson/Associated Press

Texas Tech has reportedly fired head women's basketball coach Marlene Stollings amid a number of current and former players detailing a toxic and abusive culture within the program to Jori Epstein and Daniel Libit of USA Today.

"Good evening, I have really appreciated your trust in our conversation these past two days. I wanted to let y'all know we have decided to terminate Marlene as our head coach," Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt texted players Thursday, per Epstein. "We will be putting out a statement about it tonight. I will set up a zoom call for us tomorrow to touch base. Kirby."

Hocutt also released a statement Wednesday evening:

"There is nothing more important to Texas Tech and me personally than the experience of our student-athletes. We will continue our conversation tomorrow to work through concerns about our program as we seek a path forward to make sure we are providing an environment to educate, serve and grow our student-athletes."

The players, assistant coaches and parents that spoke to USA Today accused Stollings and her staff of a number of abusive coaching tactics:

  • Monitoring players' heart rates during games and pushing for them to stay above 90 percent capacity. Players who saw their heart rates drop below that number for more than two minutes of game time were put on the "Off" list.
  • International players said they were "ridiculed, isolated and threatened by coaches."
  • Emma Merriweather said she was reprimanded for showing signs of depression.
  • Five players said strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella sexually harassed Lady Raiders and employed "a therapy technique that involved applying pressure to some players' chests and pubic bones and groins."
  • Three players said Stollings increased the intensity of practices after players brought their complaints against the head coach to school officials. 

"It was just the feeling of fear, anxiety, depression," former Lady Raider Mia Castaneda—who transferred to Washburn University last year—told USA Today. "And it wasn't just a few people—it was our entire team. They were breaking not just athletes, they were breaking people. And they didn't realize that."

Stollings has served as Texas Tech's head women's basketball coach since April 2018. Under her watch, 12 players left the program.