Six weeks after a US investigation today led to the dismissal of Texas Tech’s women’s basketball coach amid allegations of abuse of players, the school’s softball coach resigned Tuesday night under similar circumstances.
As part of a recent response to a request for an open record from the United States TODAY Sports for documents on allegations against softball coach Adrian Gregory, Texas Tech had said in a statement that it conducted an internal review “to assess the overall culture and student athlete well-being within the program. “
Texas Tech athletics spokesman Robert Giovannetti said Tuesday afternoon that the review had ended Monday night.
On Tuesday night, Gregory said in a statement from the school: “Right now I have found that it is best to differentiate from Texas Tech University and its softball program. I have really loved Lubbock and the relationships I have built here. I wish the current players and staff all the best as they move forward with future seasons. ”
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At the end of June 2019, Gregory signed a new five-year contract with the school, which hired her in June 2014.
“I would like to thank coach Gregory for her contribution to Texas Tech,” Athlete Kirby Hocutt said in a statement. “I wish her the best in the future.”
Gregory’s resignation comes on the heels when the university fires basketball coach Marlene Stollings for the cause and as an external law firm does a review of the entire athletics department.
That review, the school told U.S. TODAY Sports, was at Hocut’s request “and after approval by Texas Tech University President Lawrence Schovanec.”
It is run by the company Holland & Knight and according to the school will cover topics such as “student athletes and athletic staff understanding of and confidence in Texas Tech’s policies, routines and resolution on complaints regarding student athlete well-being. ”
It is likely to provide increased scrutiny of Hocutt, one of the country’s highest paid ADs. Hocutt does not take into account reductions related to financial problems among the COVID-19 pandemic, but will earn approximately $ 1.9 million during its current contract year.
The internal review focused in part on allegations that Gregory seized three players, according to preliminary results that the athletics department submitted to the United States TODAY Sports.
The athletics department said that two of the players denied the allegations and a third player said that there was no harmful physical contact and that it was not a reportable crime.
According to the athletics department, Gregory said, “I can unequivocally say that I have never physically taken a student-athlete or coach in any way that could cause physical injury or injury to them. I have not and will not cross that line. As a coach, the safety and confidence of student-athletes are my top priorities. ”
But Trenity Edwards and Brooke Blackwell, members of the team from 2019, told USA TODAY Sports that they saw Gregory grab the pot Erin Edmoundson last season between the matches in a double header against New Mexico State.
Edmoundson, a junior pitcher, did not respond to requests for comment.
Leticia “Letty” Olivarez, a former assistant coach who resigned in June, told school officials that Gregory grabbed Olivarez’s arm so hard during the 2019 season that it left bruises, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports. Olivarez also reported that Gregory grabbed two players in 2019 and took a third player this year – facts that match the allegations referred to in the results that the sports department provided to USA TODAY Sports.
Olivarez, in an email sent to Schovanec and Hocutt on March 10, said Gregory had caused “physical and mental abuse” on the softball team.
“Choosing to ignore my cry for help not only fails employees who work for Texas Tech but more importantly for the students in Adrian’s care who are afraid to resign,” Olivarez wrote.
Olivarez negotiated her resignation instead of being fired, signing an agreement entitling her to about $ 3,000 of her $ 65,000 annual salary, but also demanding that she and her family “agree not to make any negative statements”. “degrading or degrading to the other party”, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
The university declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding Olivarez’s resignation “because this is a staff issue.” Olivarez did not respond to several requests for comment from USA TODAY Sports.
Surveys of athletes conducted at the end of the softball season 2018-19 raised red flags about Adrian Gregory and assistant Sam Marder.
Gregory received an overall negative score as head coach: Of the 15 players who participated in the RealRecruit surveys, 60% were considered “opponents”. Forty percent of the players surveyed had a favorable “overall experience” as an athlete in Texas Tech, according to RealRecruit.
Aside from the woman’s basketball program under Stollings, no other Texas Tech head coach received such poor reviews that season. Several players complained that the team regularly violates the NCAA rules that limit countable sports-related activities to a maximum of 20 hours per week or four hours a day. They also raised repeated complaints about the atmosphere of the program and the dynamics between coaches and players.
The athletics department said it was aware of two previous allegations of race-sensitive incidents within the program, according to preliminary results from the internal review.
“These incidents were rectified immediately when they occurred in 2018-19 and these incidents are part of an ongoing review of the softball program,” the sports department stated.
Edwards, who is black and was the team’s best hit in 2019, said she was involved in both incidents that Gregory brought up through school.
According to the athletics department, Gregory said: “A student-athlete was asked to put his hair up before a game, which is common for performance in the sport of softball. When the student-athlete explained why she did not want her hair up, I apologized to her and she wore the hair she wanted for the rest of the season. I followed up with the student athlete a few days later to check in again and apologize. At that time, the student accepted the apology. ”
Edwards said she wore the Afro style as a tribute to her younger sister, who has alopecia, and Gregory did not apologize. Edwards said Gregory repeatedly shouted, “I’m not afraid of you,” before the meeting ended.
According to the athletics department, Gregory took up the second race event by saying: “The second alleged racially inappropriate event involved a comment during training, where I was not present, by a student-athlete who is no longer on the program. The student-athlete who made the comment apologized to the individual to whom the comment was directed and she also apologized to her teammates during a player-only meeting. I am and have been committed to having important conversations about social injustice and to promoting an inclusive and welcoming environment for student athletes, coaches and staff. ”
As a line formed in practice, Edwards said, a white player told Edwards, “Back of the line, Rosa,” referring to civic activist Rosa Parks. Edwards said she felt the punishment – an apology from her white teammate – was inadequate.
“In light of current race events, we are all the more committed to addressing race issues as they arise and maintaining open lines of communication with our student athletes,” the sports department told USA TODAY Sports. “We will continue to provide resources that our student-athletes need when they are uncomfortable and dealing with certain situations.”
Gregory received a five-year extension in July 2019 after the softball team ended the season with a record 42-16 and made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012. Her total record after is 157-147.
Allegations of mental abuse date back to shortly after Texas Tech hired Gregory in June 2014, according to Cassie McClure, a pitcher on the team’s list when Gregory was hired.
She said Gregory isolated McClure from the team after McClure suffered a concussion and told players not to contact her. McClure said she became so depressed that she had suicidal thoughts and moved to Nebraska.
In Nebraska, McClure was named to the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2016 and 2017, named to the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll five times, and finished second all the time with 13 career savings.
Michaela Cochran, who played at Texas Tech from 2017 and 2019 and made the Big 12 All-Freshman team, noted on Twitter that she had several surgeries while playing softball at school. And in an August 17 tweet, Cochran wrote, “My depression / anxiety was used against me and I was constantly gas-lit.”
Susan Welborn, at Stalwart at Texas Tech from 2014 to 2017, offered support to Gregory. Welborn said that she and “many, many players I talk to … had a positive experience with G.”
“And while I was there, there were no allegations of being arrested or verbally abused,” Welborn said in a text message. G is tough and made us tough too.
With that said, we also had meetings during training sessions with a sports psychologist to ensure that our mental health was a priority. There will inevitably be mixed reviews on every coach in every sport. But my experiences were positive. It was my formative years and I got personal help from many obstacles in my personal life by G. ”
Cast: Jori Epstein