18.08 2020 09:11h

Texas Tech women's basketball team reports a toxic environment fostered by their coach.

The ‘toxic environment’ and ‘culture of abuse’ prompted several students to withdraw from the program.
Texas, Basketball, Scandal

The Texas Tech Red Raiders women’s basketball team claimed that their coach, Marlene Stollings fostered a toxic work environment through intimidation, passive attitude towards mental health and overlooking abuse.

Stollings had taken over in 2018 as head coach and since then 12 out of 21 players had left the program due to the mentally and physically taxing environment, they were put in.

Unethical monitoring measures such as heart monitors were also introduced to measure players heart rates during a game which could not drop below 90% capacity for more than two minutes.
Erin DeGrate, who transferred to Baylor in 2019 told USA TODAY Sports: “It was basically like a torture mechanism”.

USA TODAY, in collaboration with The Intercollegiate, a college sports investigative media outlet, interviewed 10 players, two former assistant coaches and two parents about the program. 6 players came forward to the news organization giving their account of how they had been treated.

According to the report, former Lady Raiders basketball player Emma Merriweather’s mental health conditions were disregarded when assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins told her to ‘snap a rubber band on her wrist every time she had a negative thought’, after she was diagnosed with depression. Merriweather even said that Stollings confiscated her support dog.

Players alleged that they were also made to suffer under harsher practices incorporated by Stollings after sexual harassment complaints were made about the strength and conditioning coach, Ralph Petrella forcing him to resign.

Players were often mocked about their weight and physical fitness level too causing a feeling of anxiety and panic to spread amongst them.

Stollings in a statement to USA TODAY Sports said: "Our administration and my staff believe in the way we are building and turning this program around here. Our student athletes are developing a disciplined approach both on and off the court.”

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