Former Lady Raider Basketball Players Allege Abuse by Head Coach Marlene Stollings & Coaching Staff in USA Today Sports Investigation
Update: Late Wednesday afternoon, Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt released a statement regarding the Lady Raiders basketball program scandal.
Hocutt said he spent more than three hours in meetings over the course the day, and expects to continue discussions Thursday.
There is nothing more important to Texas Tech and me personally than the experience of our student-athletes. I met with the Lady Raider basketball team this afternoon for more than an hour and subsequently with the team and coaching staff for more than two hours. 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.
Original story: Late Tuesday night, USA Today Sports released an exposé in which former players with the Texas Tech Lady Raider Basketball team alleged a series of abuses by the current coaching staff, including head coach Marlene Stollings.
A total of 10 players spoke to USA Today Sports for the wide-ranging story.
Erin DeGrate, who transferred from Texas Tech to Baylor in 2019, went on the record for the story and said wearing heart-rate monitors were like “a torture mechanism" due to alleged discipline for players whose heart-rate dropped below 90 percent during more than two minutes of game time.
USA Today's reporters detailed that in end-of-season exit interviews, five unnamed Lady Raider players over the past two seasons alleged that a now-former male strength and conditioning coach sexually harassed players. That coach, Ralph Petrella, resigned from Texas Tech in March 2020 before an investigation could be conducted.
Three players also alleged in exit interviews that Stollings held tougher practices after abuse claims were brought to school officials.
Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt told USA Today that the strength and conditioning coach resigned before an investigation could be conducted. Hocutt also said to USA Today Sports:
"Earlier this year, we were made aware of allegations of inappropriate behavior by a support staff member of our women’s basketball program. When the individual was confronted with the allegations, the individual resigned from their position before any university review could take place. Additionally, based on information received we conducted an in-depth program review of our women’s basketball program. ... 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."
The USA Today story also chronicled the end of former Lady Raider center Emma Merriweather's time at Texas Tech.
Merriweather left Texas Tech for Kansas after the 2018-19 season, and she won an appeal for immediate eligibility after writing a letter to the NCAA alleging a series of abuses against her by the Lady Raider coaching staff.
One incident alleged that Stollings confiscated her dog and gave the pet away to a booster.
Merriweather also told USA Today her opinion about Coach Stollings:
“A lot of these girls had never experienced depression or extreme anxiety before they came to Tech and they experienced it with Marlene. Coach Marlene was evil and manipulative and vindictive in a quiet watered-down manner, so you can’t outwardly say, ‘This person is evil.’ … Her values are not in protecting her team and the girls...That woman is a millionaire off being evil.”
Stollings is still under contract with Texas Tech through the 2023-2024 season. USA Today Sports reports that if Stollings is terminated, without cause, should would be entitled to 75 percent of her remaining basic annual compensation, which is more than $2 million.