Players on Texas Tech’s women’s basketball team allege that the program has fostered a culture of abuse since coach Marlene Stollings arrived in 2018, spurring an exodus of more than half the team in the past two years.
The problems with Stollings’ reign were revealed in season-ending exit interviews, which were obtained by investigative outlet The Intercollegiate, then published by USA Today. Among the accusations are the verbally degrading things that multiple players reported that Stollings said:
Stollings and her staff called players “disgusting” and “trash,” five players from the past two seasons told USA TODAY Sports. Coaches called post players “fat pig,” “grossly out of shape” and “grossly disproportional,” four say.
Players say coaches dismissed some injuries and pressured players to play even though a trainer or medical professional recommended otherwise.
Along with verbal abuse, players claimed the coaching staff forced them reach at least 90 percent of their capacity based on data from heart rate chips during games, or face loss of playing time.
“It was basically like a torture mechanism,” said player Erin DeGrate, who played two seasons at Texas Tech. “I feel like the system wasn’t being used how she was using it.”
Stollings also failed to support players when it came to complaints about strength coach Ralph Petrella, who they said made humiliating, threatening and occasionally sexual comments:
Players say it started with Petrella degrading them over weigh-ins, and that he took pictures of their bodies from multiple angles before the 2018-19 season. He said the staff wanted “before” and “after” photos to show players how their body composition was improving, but players said they were never shown the pictures.
Players say Petrella always asked permission before administering what he called reflexive performance reset (RPR) recovery techniques. While some say Petrella showed them how to apply pressure themselves in intimate areas, at least two players said he applied pressure near their chest and groin.
Petrella resigned after one player reported that he had reached under her sports bra to access “a chest pressure point,” and also reached under her spandex shorts to reach an area near her groin.
Despite all this, Stollings has hung on to her job.
“We know change is difficult and that has been no different at Texas Tech,” she said. “Some wonderful young women have decided to leave our program and pursue their dreams elsewhere. 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.”