Marlene Stollings, the former Texas Tech women’s basketball coach who was fired after accusations of verbal abuse and creating a “toxic environment,” is preparing to sue the school, ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel reported Thursday.
Stollings believes she was fired without cause and retained attorney Peter Ginsberg, per the report. She told ESPN she wants to clear her name to get anther coaching job.
Ex-Texas Tech coach prepares to sue
Stollings had four years left on her contract, but will not get the remaining money unless it is found she was fired without cause.
“It is my goal to coach again,” Stollings said, via ESPN. “I knew I wanted to coach since I was in middle school. I've worked diligently to do it the right way.”
Ginsberg sent a letter to the Texas Tech vice chancellor and general counsel Eric Bentley to preserve documents and electronically stored information regarding the firing, per the report.
Stollings fired after report of toxic environment
Stollings, 45, was fired last month the day after a USA Today investigation published with exit interviews from players. They said they felt isolated and threatened under the coach and were admonished for issues such as depression.
They also accused former strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella of berating and sexually harassing them. Petrella resigned in March and Stollings told ESPN she reported him as soon as she was made aware of the allegations.
Athletic director Kirby Hocutt initially told USA Today they had reviewed the program and discussed the interviews with Stollings. He said they were “that we are taking appropriate steps to improve the relationship and communication between coaches and student-athletes.”
Hocutt then met with players on multiple occasions and she was fired the following night. A total of 12 players left the school during her two years there.
Stollings ‘shocked’ by sudden firing
Stollings, who went 32-28 in two seasons with the Red Raiders, told ESPN everything in the USA Today article was already known to Hocutt. She said the athletic director assured her after the article’s publication that she would stay in her position.
Her statement for the USA Today article was school-approved, she said, but she told ESPN she feels she didn’t do enough to defend herself and relied on Hocutt’s word.
“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, who added that she had been allowed to hire a new assistant coach in July.
“Does that mean I trusted him too much? I think now we can say apparently so.”
Stollings ‘refuses’ the word toxic regarding her program
Stollings has also coached at Winthrop, VCU and Minnesota. She told ESPN when she was hired the administration made “very clear” the program was lacking a level of fitness, accountability and work ethic to get back to the top.
"I don't have a history of rules violations. I don't have a history of people calling me abusive and toxic. 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.”
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