Report alleges toxic environment, sexual harassment within Lady Raiders basketball program

Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 7:00 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A report published in USA Today on Wednesday alleges Texas Tech Lady Raider Basketball Coach Marlene Stollings maintained a toxic work environment for players.

The allegations stem from former players exit interviews throughout the last two seasons.

Among the claims are an emphasis of keeping elevated heart rates that were supposed to be maintained throughout games. Some players said they were ridiculed.

One player alleges she was scolded for showing symptoms of depression, which she was later diagnosed with, according to USA Today.

Five other players also allege a former strength and conditioning coach, Ralph Petrella, sexually harassed them. The players told USA Today when it was brought up to the coaching staff they were punished with tougher practices.

Petrella was reported to have resigned before an investigation was started into his conduct.

The same statements on those allegation quoted in the USA Today article were also given to KCBD.

“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,” Kirby Hocutt, Tech athletic director, 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.”

Stollings also issued a statement on the allegations.

“We know change is difficult and that has been no different at Texas Tech. Some wonderful young women have decided to leave our program and pursue their dreams elsewhere. I hope they have found everything they are looking for at their new destination,” Stollings said.

"Our administration and my staff believe in the way we are building and turning this program around here. Our student athletes are developing a disciplined approach both on and off the court.

“I want our students, fans and alumni to know we are committed to winning championships at Texas Tech and doing it the right way through hard work, accountability and fierce determination.”

The full article from USA Today can be found here: Texas Tech women’s basketball players describe toxic culture: ‘Fear, anxiety and depression’

Texas Tech Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt released this statement on Wednesday evening:

“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.”

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