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Texas Tech Women’s Basketball Abuse Lawsuit

Texas Tech recently fired its head women’s basketball coach, Marlene Stollings, amid dozens of complaints by players of sexual harassment, dangerous workouts, and retaliation.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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What’s the Problem?

A new article in USA TODAY [1] contains exit interviews from 10 players on Texas Tech women’s basketball team from the 2019-2020 season. The allegations include:

  • An emphasis on maintaining an elevated heart rate during play forced 2 players to stop taking over-the-counter painkillers so the pain would keep their heart rates high.
  • 3 international players over the past 2 seasons faced ridicule, isolation and threats by coaches. Brazilian Marcella LaMark said Stollings told her that her fitness lagged so far behind teammates that she was “dangerous” to them.
  • 6’5″ center Emma Merriweather she was admonished by coaches for displaying symptoms of depression, and told by an assistant coach to snap a rubber band on her wrist when she had a negative thought.
  • At least 5 players say strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella sexually harassed them.
  • 3 players said Stollings retaliated by holding tougher practices after they filed abuse claims with officials at Texas Tech.

Along with the 10 former Texas Tech women’s basketball players who were interviewed, 2 former assistant coaches and 2 parents also spoke out about the program. Six of the players spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

“It was just the feeling of fear, anxiety, depression,” said Mia Castaneda, who transferred from Texas Tech to Washburn University in 2019. “They were breaking not just athletes, they were breaking people. And they didn’t realize that.”

Texas Tech Women’s Basketball Players Allege Culture of Abuse: KVUE News Video

When Stollings was hired as head coach of the Lady Raiders in April 2018, she brought with her associate head coach Lowry Dawkins, who had been Stollings’ top assistant at Minnesota and Virginia Commonwealth University. The roles were reversed 15 years earlier, when Dawkins was head coach and Stollings an assistant at New Mexico State.

Dawkins’ tenure at New Mexico ended in 2003 when she was removed following an investigation “into allegations of mental and physical abuse, and other conduct that has jeopardized the health, safety, welfare and education of student-athletes under your charge,” according to the university’s termination notice.

Specifically, the investigation found that Dawkins had threatened to kill one player, pulled another player’s hair and pushed players in conditioning to the point of becoming sick.

“You were counseled for similar behavior last season,” Dawkins’ termination notice said, “and your actions this year indicate an inability or an unwillingness to conform to an acceptable level of conduct.”

In response to the allegations against Stollings and her staff, Texas Tech formed a committee to investigate the Title IX complaints, transfer waiver requests filed with the NCAA, and interviews with school officials. Five players described in correspondences the women’s basketball program as an “extremely unhealthy” and “toxic environment” in which players were “mistreated” and “degraded,” according to USA Today.

Stollings, who is under contract with Texas Tech through March 2024, was paid $720,000 in basic annual compensation for the 2019-20 season, and is due another $740,000 for 2020-21, according to her employment contract. Termination without cause would entitle Stollings to 75% of her remaining basic annual compensation, a total of more than $2 million.

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The Sexual Abuse Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Texas Tech Women’s Basketball Abuse Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one was the victim of abuse, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.

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