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Ex-Gopher coach Marlene Stollings accused of creating 'toxic' culture at Texas Tech

Stollings is accused of ordering a booster to take a player's emotional support dog away.

In two seasons at head women's basketball coach at Texas Tech, Marlene Stollings has had 12 players leave the program. Earlier this week, USA Today published a report that featured ex-players accusing Stollings of creating a "toxic" culture at Texas Tech. 

Stollings, who took the Texas Tech job after four seasons as the head coach at the University of Minnesota (2014-2018), released a statement admitting no wrongdoing. 

“We know change is difficult and that has been no different at Texas Tech. Some wonderful young women have decided to leave our program and pursue their dreams elsewhere. I hope they have found everything they are looking for at their new destination.

“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.

“I want our students, fans and alumni to know we are committed to winning championships at Texas Tech and doing it the right way through hard work, accountability and fierce determination.”

Numerous players spoke to USA Today, saying Stollings' "character seems poor," she uses "fear to motivate," and that something needs to be done about the coaching staff "so that my teammates don't have to continue suffering in silence." 

Also named in the report is former Texas Tech strength and conditioning coach Ralph Patrella, who held the same position at the University of Minnesota under Stollings from 2014 to 2018. Patrella resigned in March after allegations of mistreatment was sent to Texas Tech officials. 

Details of the alleged mistreatment is documented in the USA Today report, which includes accusations of sexual harassment and one incident in which a player, Emma Merriweather, suffered a panic attack after Patrella allegedly insulted her about her weight in front of men's basketball players. 

Merriweather, who transferred to Kansas, told USA Today that she got dog as an emotional support pet after being diagnosed with depression, though Stollings ordered the dog be taken from her because it would "distract" her from basketball. 

Players also accused Stollings of making practices much harder and told them they were "mentally weak" after she found out players complained to the athletic department about how they were being treated. The coaching staff also allegedly referred to some players at "disgusting" and "fat pigs," the report said. 

Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt issued a statement in response to the report, saying he is "confident that we are taking appropriate steps to improve the relationship and communication between coaches and student-athletes so that we can continue to grow the success of our program both on and off the court.”

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