SportsPulse: Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt spoke with reporters Friday to discuss the school’s next steps after firing women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings.
Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec says the university will thoroughly review the situation inside the Lady Raiders program, including Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt’s response.
Schovanec said Monday the first priority has been to hire a new coach of the program. After that, he said there will be time to reflect and review how the women’s basketball program was being handled. Schovanec said more information about the review will be announced later.
When asked about Hocutt’s role, Schovanec said on Monday: “We’ll have more to say about that as we go forward. Don’t think we haven’t reflected on that to a great deal. Right now we’re in the process of doing a search for a new coach. We want to get that taken care of.
“Then there will be a time to reflect and review things that have happened,” Schovanec continued. “I haven’t discussed that in any depth with Kirby, but I can assure you he’s given it much thought. There will be more to be said about that. I just feel like now would be a bit premature to elaborate on that aspect of what happened.”
On Tuesday, Tech announced it’s hiring Krista Gerlich as the next Lady Raiders head coach.
Two weeks ago, USA TODAY published an article featuring 10 players describing an abusive culture under coach Marlene Stollings, assistant coach Nikita Lowry Dawkins, and strength and conditioning coach Ralph Petrella.
Schovanec called the incident a black eye for the university.
Texas Tech elected to terminate coach Stollings on Aug. 6 amid the allegations of abuse within the program. A day later, assistant coach Dawkins was fired. Petrella, the strength and conditioning coach who denies any misconduct, resigned after the season in March.
During a news conference after the firings, Hocutt said he apologized to players for failing to address concerns they had reported via meetings with administrators, season-ending surveys, NCAA waiver letters, and a complaint with the school’s Title IX office, according to another USA TODAY story.
“Have we let these girls down? We have,” Hocutt said in the news conference. “And I’m going to improve on it.”
Schovanec also said the university let the student-athletes down.
Hocutt has led the Texas Tech athletics department since 2011 and is one of the nation’s highest-paid athletics directors. He is making $1.545 million this fiscal year on a contract that runs through August 2027. He said during his news conference that a four-person committee was tasked with investigating the women’s basketball program culture, and he was given the months-long investigation orally at the end of June.
Action wasn’t taken until after it became a national story.
Schovanec added: “I do want to emphasize that Kirby Hocutt is a person that does not let things slide. It wasn’t a case that somebody was asleep at the wheel. There was ongoing discussion and review and communication. As Kirby said in his press conference, we felt like we let those student-athletes down.”
Once the new coach is hired, Schovanec said, the university will review what happened within the program.
“We’re always looking for ways to reflect upon what’s happened, to improve what we do, and to make sure we do better as we go forward,” Schovanec said Monday. “There will be more to be said about that, but right now we’re focused on getting a new coach. The pool was excellent. We can turn this around quickly, making sure that our first priority is how we take care of the student-athletes that are on the team. That will be the challenge — to build the kind of relationship and trust that was lacking.”