Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt announced the firing of Lady Raider head basketball coach Marlene Stollings Thursday evening, one day after USA Today released an article where players called the program a 'toxic environment'.
"These should be the best years of their lives. We should be mentoring them for life and to learn lessons they'll be carrying with them forever," Hocutt said at a virtual news conference Friday. Click here - to watch the full news conference.
Hocutt said some players brought concerns to Judy Henry, the Senior Women's Administrator at Texas Tech, after year one of Marlene Stollings' tenure.
"By all indications things had improved for the time being," Hocutt said.
Entering year two, Hocutt said there were indications 'things weren't where they hoped they'd be'. He said he started going to the locker room after home games and dropped by practice when he could.
"I determined that it was going to be necessary, at the end of the season, to have an in-depth review of the program," Hocutt said.
Entering the COVID-19 shutdown, Hocutt said the review was supposed to happen in April. It was delayed through June. Hocutt finally met with Marlene in early July. The team meeting was the next step and was originally scheduled for July 22, but was pushed back since Hocutt had a scheduled donor trip. It was rescheduled for July 29, but Stollings requested pushing it back another week since a player was injured. Hocutt said the meeting took place Wednesday, August 5, the day USA Today published its front-page article. The next day, Marlene Stollings was fired.
"If it would have been on a day different than when the article came out would the conversation had been as open and as free flowing as it was as a team? I don't know that," Hocutt said.
Hocutt said Tech wasn't aware of the magnitude of the situation or the affect it had on the women in the locker room. To ensure a new culture, he says there will be an abundance of change.
"As we get ready to bring a new coaching staff in we will probably assign a new administrative liaison to women's basketball just to hit that complete reset button," Hocutt said.
Stollings was fired for cause based on objectionable behavior. Tech doesn't owe her the more than two million dollars in her contract. Hocutt said the university is moving forward quickly and carefully in its coaching search.