Hocutt describes troubled Lady Raider basketball program, apologizes to players

Updated: Aug. 7, 2020 at 4:34 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt held a news conference to discuss the termination of Lady Raiders Head Coach Marlene Stollings and other members of the coaching staff on Friday.

Hocutt painted a picture of a troubled program that had received multiple complaints through Stollings’ first and second season, prompting him to conduct an investigation.

He said Texas Tech administrators had tried several times to address complaints from within the program, and each time he thought things had improved.

Hocutt began his news conference with an apology to members of the team: “We have failed them and we have to do better. These should be the best years of their lives. We should be mentoring them for life and to learn lessons they will be carrying with them forever. That’s not been their experience, and for that, I apologize. We’re gonna get this right,” Hocutt said.

Hocutt said the most serious complaint, the Title IX complaint of sexual harassment against strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella, was dealt with quickly. He said he learned of the complaint on March 25 and the coach was no longer in his position by March 27.

The USA Today story came out on Wednesday, Aug. 5, the same day Hocutt met with players and made his final decision about Stollings.

That meeting had been pushed back several times, and Hocutt could not say conclusively if the USA Today story had affected what the players were willing to share.

“I trust that they would have shared their feelings and experience with me,” Hocutt said.

Daniel Libit, one of the original authors of the USA Today piece, asked Hocutt if he was trying to leave the impression that Stollings was about to be terminated before their story broke.

Hocutt said he did not act earlier because he had not been aware of the “magnitude” of the problem until he spoke with the players on Wednesday.

Hocutt said, “While we were aware of concerns that the players brought forward in the first season, we were not aware of the magnitude to which they had occurred or to the magnitude it had affected the young women in our locker room.”

“Have we let these girls down? We have, and we’re gonna improve from it,” Hocutt said.

When asked if he should remain in his current position, Hocutt said, “That is President Schovanec’s decision, but I’m confident in his trust and he knows my commitment to the 415 student athletes that we serve every day.”

Hocutt explained the situation to the Texas Tech Board of Regents and answered questions at their meeting on Thursday.

Stollings’ termination was announced Thursday night, Aug. 6.

Hocutt said Stollings was terminated for objectionable behavior and will not be paid anything more on her contract, which was set to expire in 2024.

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