A total of 12 women have left the Texas Tech women’s basketball team and school ever since Coach Marlene Stollings took over the program in 2018. An investigation was carried out by USA Today, and it revealed cases of abuse by Stollings and her coaches.
Players complain about being ignored, ridiculed, and isolated. Even symptoms of depression were ignored. Some say they were sexually abused, and despite these allegations, she still gets to keep her job.
Erin DeGrate, who played two seasons at Texas Tech before transferring to Baylor last year, said, “it was basically like a torture mechanism. I feel like the system wasn’t supposed to be used how she was using it”. Many other players have complained about the culture of abuse in the program ever since she took over.
Among the claims that were gathered by USA Today and The Intercollegiate, were that, because the emphasis was placed on the fact that the players must maintain an elevated heart rate during play, two players were known to have been talking over the counter painkillers to keep their heart rate spiked and that’s just one them.
International players, three of them, reported being threatened and ridiculed by coaches. Marcella LaMark, who is a Brazilian native, said Stollings had told her that her fitness lagged behind her teammates and that it would be “dangerous” for them.
Emma Merriweather, a 6-5 center, also said coaches castigated her for exhibiting symptoms of depression, which she was later diagnosed with. She told one coach called Nikita Lowry Dawkins told her to snap a rubber band on her wrist whenever she had a negative thought. This Dawkins was also known to have threatened to kill an athlete.
Strength and Conditioning coach Ralph Petrella sexually harassed five players. He has since denied any misconduct and resigned in March.
Allegations made on abuse are still being investigated
Three players said that Stollings’ response to some of these allegations was rather disheartening. She held rigorous practices, together with Judy Henry, executive senior associate athletic director, and senior women’s administrator. Athletics director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement that they are still investigating these allegations and will do all they can to get Justice for these athletes and stop the culture of abuse.
“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,” Hocutt said.
“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” he added.
Did Texas Tech make the right decision by keeping her?
Stollings also said in a statement that she believes these athletes are developing a disciplined approach to sports both on or off the pitch. She wants the students, fans, and alumni to know they are “committed to winning championships at Texas Tech and doing it the right way through hardworking, accountability and determination” and to those who couldn’t take the heat, she hopes they find what they are looking for at their destination
The allegations of abuse are just many, goes on and on, everywhere in sports, from gymnastics to electronic sports. But what are higher-ups doing about this? Or does this culture run so deep that they are intentionally ignoring these complaints?
Should Stollings still be allowed to keep her job because she claims to be instilling discipline in these athletes or should be sacked? Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Olympic Medallist, and CEO of Champion and Women believe all abusive coaches to be sack with immediate effect.
“Not every coach is abusive,” she reasoned, “But every abusive person who wants that inherently abusive relationship wants to get into sports because administrators are not holding them to account. We need to get abusive coaches out of coaching. Period. End of story. We can’t agree with Hogshead any less.