The allegations are dark, they are troubling and they are unacceptable, even though, so far, they are being accepted and even explained away by a Big 12 university that should know better.
In the two years since Texas Tech women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings took over a program that once won a national championship, a dozen players have left amid allegations of abuse by Stollings and two assistant coaches.
One player said she was admonished by coaches for displaying symptoms of depression and was told by one of the assistant coaches to snap a rubber band on her wrist when she had a negative thought. Three international players allegedly were isolated, threatened by coaches and ridiculed over their English language skills. The coaches' obsession with tracking players’ heart rates drove two athletes to eschew over-the-counter painkillers to try to use the pain to keep their heart rates spiked, players said.
“It was just the feeling of fear, anxiety, depression,” Mia Castaneda, who transferred away from Texas Tech last year, told USA TODAY Sports. “And it wasn’t just a few people – it was our entire team. They were breaking not just athletes, they were breaking people.”
While all of this allegedly was going on, five players alleged that strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella sexually harassed players, making suggestive comments and using a therapy technique that involved applying pressure to some players’ chests, pubic bones and groins. Petrella, who denies any misconduct, resigned in March. The players allege they reported some of Petrella’s comments to Stollings, and she said she didn’t believe them.
Marlene Stollings has been coach of the Texas Tech women's basketball team since April 2018. (Photo: The Associated Press)
So far, Stollings and her top assistant, Nikita Lowry Dawkins, said to be the rubber-band therapy proponent, have not resigned or been forced out of their jobs. No one at Texas Tech – not the coaches, not athletics director Kirby Hocutt, not anyone – seems overly concerned about the claims.
Texas Tech formed a committee to review the allegations, but when USA TODAY Sports asked for a copy of the committee’s report, the school said there was no copy of the committee’s report. Interestingly, Texas Tech said the report was given to Hocutt verbally, which means there is no written record, no paper trail. Sounds like everything’s on the up and up there, doesn’t it?
Stollings and Lowry Dawkins do, however, have a record of another kind, a history of running another college basketball program with allegations of abuse at another school, New Mexico State, more than 15 years ago. Back then, Lowry Dawkins was the head coach and Stollings was an assistant. Lowry Dawkins was removed from her job in 2003 following a school investigation into allegations of mental and physical abuse, among other awful things.
The New Mexico State investigation found that Lowry Dawkins threatened to kill one player, pulled another player’s hair and pushed players in conditioning to the point that some became sick. After Lowry Dawkins lost her job, Stollings became interim coach but eventually resigned in support of Lowry Dawkins, who denied the claims at the time, according to the Associated Press.
Yet these women still were given other jobs coaching young athletes, not only at Texas Tech, but before that, at Virginia Commonwealth and Minnesota. Is no one doing their homework before making these hires?
It is abundantly clear that there should be no place in sports for coaches like Stollings and Lowry Dawkins. Yet here they are, still employed. Why?
The question isn’t all that different from the one we are asking college administrators regarding fall sports in the midst of a raging pandemic: Isn’t your most important priority the health and safety of the young athletes in your care, come what may?
We’re awaiting your answer, Texas Tech.
Source: Read Full Article