On August 6, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said the school would immediately terminate Marlene Stollings, head coach of the Lady Raiders women’s basketball team, one day after USA Today Sports published reports of abusive behavior from 10 players.
The players also complained about abuse from assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins, who was also fired, and strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella, who resigned before an investigation took place.
Five women said Petrella sexually harassed players and threatened them with violence. One woman said he used a “therapy technique” that involved using his hands to apply pressure under her sports bras and shorts.
Petrella resigned in March 2020, around the same time that the woman reported the incident to a Title IX administrator at Texas Tech.
Several players said the coaches and staff taunted post players with name-calling like “fat pig,” “grossly out of shape” or “grossly disproportional.”
The players said coaches forced them to wear a heart rate monitor and keep up a heart rate of at least 90% of capacity during the game. Failure was punished with more conditioning sessions or a loss of playing time.
Emma Merriweather accused Stollings of taking her dog away and offering it to someone else because the dog distracted her from basketball. Merriweather also said she was shamed for displaying symptoms of depression, for which she was eventually diagnosed.
Three players also said Stollings retaliated by holding tougher practices when they reported the abuse to school officials at Texas Tech.
Numerous women’s basketball players have accused Stollings and her staff of creating a “toxic culture” of abuse that led to an exodus of players out of the program. Over two years, 12 out of 21 players left the program, including 7 players who were recruited under Stollings.