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Former Texas Tech coach Stollings to sue for wrongful termination

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Former Texas Tech women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings is preparing to sue the university, a little under a month after she was fired amidst allegations of verbal abuse and fostering a “toxic environment”.

Stollings, who claims she was fired without cause, has retained attorney Peter Ginsberg. Per a report from ESPN, she is looking to clear her name to get another head coaching job. Stollings had four years left on her contract, but per the deal cannot collect any remaining money unless it is proven she was fired without cause.

Ginsberg has sent a letter to Texas Tech vice chancellor and general counsel Eric Bentley to preserve documents and electronically stored information regarding the firing.

WHY STOLLINGS WAS FIRED

On August 5, USA TODAY released an article detailing an investigation built on exit interviews from former and current players over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. In the investigation, players said they felt threatened, were admonished for feeling depressed and isolated. Also, former strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella was accused of berating and sexually abusing members of the team. Petrella resigned after the season ended in March.

Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt has told USA Today that they had reviwed the program and discussed its findings with Stollings; Hocutt then met with players on multiple occasions and made the decision to fire Stollings the day after the article. In Stollings’ two-year run at Texas Tech, 12 players had transferred out of the program.

STOLLINGS ‘SHOCKED’ BY SUDDEN FIRING

According to Stollings, everything in the USA TODAY article was already information that Hocutt had known. She said that the athletic director had even assured her she would stay in her position, and even allowed her to hire an assistant coach.

“I believed what Kirby was telling me: That we were moving ahead, and if improvements had to be made, they would be made,” said Stollings. “Does that mean I trusted him too much? I think now we can say apparently so.”

In the ESPN report, Stollings, who has also coached at Winthrop, VCU and Minnesota, made clear that Texas Tech said the program was lacking a culture of accountability.

“I don’t have a history of rules violations. I don’t have a history of people calling me abusive and toxic,” Stollings said. “What I do have is a history of positively turning around programs, and doing it very quickly at four schools.”

“I absolutely refuse the word toxic, put in any way, appropriately described this program.”

Chris Bullock
Chris Bullock
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation's Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women's basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, "The Triple Double". A self-described "foodaholic", Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, "Conscious Cravings", where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.

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