Texas Tech fires women's basketball coach amid abuse allegations

Texas Tech has dismissed women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings, citing reports of abuse within the program, the university confirmed Thursday night.

“Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt has announced the termination of Lady Raider basketball head coach Marlene Stollings effective immediately,” the school said in a statement.

“Good evening, I have really appreciated your trust in our conversation these past two days. I wanted to let y'all know we have decided to terminate Marlene as our head coach,” Hocutt said in a text message to members of the team obtained by USA Today.

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The announcement followed allegations of abuse against Stollings, strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella and assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins. Petrella, who has denied all allegations, resigned in March, while Lowry Dawkins remains on staff, according to the newspaper.

Players, former assistant coaches and parents alleged that coaches ordered players to maintain an elevated heart rate of at least 90 percent of capacity while they played. Any player who was not able to was punished with conditioning assignments or the loss of playing time, they alleged.

The three international players on rosters the past two seasons alleged they were subject to ridicule and threats. Marcella LaMark, a native of Brazil, said Stollings told her she was “dangerous” to her teammates because of how far behind them she allegedly was in terms of fitness.

Center Emma Merriweather said coaches berated her for symptoms of what would later be diagnosed as depression.

Five players alleged sexual harassment by Petrella.

Hocutt said the decision followed a Wednesday meeting with players and a subsequent meeting with the team and coaching staff.

“There is nothing more important to Texas Tech and me personally than the experience of our student-athletes,” Hocutt said Wednesday. “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.”