Another Texas Tech coach leaves

- By Steve Berkowitz, Josh Peter and Daniel Libit Con­tribut­ing: Jori Ep­stein Sports · Texas Tech University · United States of America · Adrian · Texas · Lubbock · Lawrence · Netherlands · New Mexico · New Mexico State University · Mexico · Mexico State · Gregory · Gregory · Kirby Hocutt · Kirby · Holland & Knight · Blackwell, WI · Erin · Olivarez, TX

Six weeks af­ter a USA TO­DAY in­ves­ti­ga­tion led to the fir­ing of Texas Tech’s women’s bas­ket­ball coach amid al­le­ga­tions of player abuse, the school’s soft­ball coach re­signed Tues­day night amid sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances.

As part of a re­cent re­sponse to an open-records re­quest from USA TO­DAY for doc­u­ments con­cern­ing al­le­ga­tions against soft­ball coach Adrian Gre­gory, Texas Tech had said in a state­ment that it was con­duct­ing an in­ter­nal re­view “to as­sess the over­all cul­ture and stu­den­tath­lete well-be­ing within the pro­gram.”

Texas Tech ath­let­ics spokesman Robert Gio­van­netti said Tues­day af­ter­noon the re­view had been com­pleted Mon­day night.

On Tues­day evening, Gre­gory said in a state­ment from the school: “At this time, I have found it best to part ways with Texas Tech Univer­sity and its soft­ball pro­gram. I have truly 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.”

In late 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 con­tri­bu­tions to Texas Tech,” ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Kirby Ho­cutt said in a state­ment. “I wish her the best in the fu­ture.”

Gre­gory’s de­par­ture comes on the heels of the univer­sity fir­ing women’s bas­ket­ball coach Mar­lene Stollings for cause and as an out­side law firm is un­der­tak­ing a re­view of the en­tire ath­let­ics depart­ment.

That re­view, the school told USA TO­DAY, was at Ho­cutt’s re­quest ”and upon the ap­proval of Texas Tech Univer­sity Pres­i­dent Lawrence Schovanec.”

It is be­ing con­ducted by the firm of Hol­land & Knight and, ac­cord­ing to the school, is to cover top­ics in­clud­ing “stu­dent-ath­lete and ath­let­ics staff un­der­stand­ing of, and con­fi­dence in, Texas Tech’s poli­cies, pro­ce­dures, and res­o­lu­tion on complaints re­gard­ing stu­den­tath­lete well-be­ing.”

That is likely to bring in­creased scru­tiny of Ho­cutt, one of the na­tion’s most highly paid AD’s. Not tak­ing into ac­count re­duc­tions re­lated to fi­nan­cial con­cerns amid the COVID-19 pan­demic, Ho­cutt is set to make about $1.9 mil­lion dur­ing his cur­rent con­tract year.

The in­ter­nal re­view fo­cused in part on al­le­ga­tions that Gre­gory grabbed three play­ers, ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary find­ings the ath­let­ics depart­ment pro­vided to USA TO­DAY Sports.

The ath­let­ics depart­ment said two of the play­ers de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and a third player said there was no harmful phys­i­cal con­tact nor was it a re­portable of­fense.

Ac­cord­ing to the ath­letic depart­ment, Gre­gory said, “I can unequiv­o­cally say that I have never phys­i­cally grabbed a stu­dent-ath­lete or coach in any way that would cause phys­i­cal harm or in­jury to them. I have not, and will not, cross that line. As a coach, the safety and trust of stu­dent-ath­letes are my ut­most pri­or­i­ties.’’

But Tren­ity Ed­wards and Brooke Black­well, mem­bers of the 2019 team, told USA TO­DAY they saw Gre­gory grab pitcher Erin Ed­mound­son last sea­son be­tween games of a dou­ble­header against New Mex­ico State. Ed­mound­son, a ju­nior, 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. Oli­varez also re­ported that Gre­gory grabbed two play­ers in 2019 and grabbed a third player this year — facts that match the al­le­ga­tions ref­er­enced in the find­ings the ath­letic depart­ment pro­vided to USA TO­DAY.

Oli­varez, in a March 10 email sent to Schovanec and Ho­cutt, said that Gre­gory has in­flicted “phys­i­cal and men­tal abuse’’ on the soft­ball team.

“To choose to ig­nore my cry for help not only fails em­ploy­ees work­ing for Texas Tech but more im­por­tantly for the stu­dent ath­letes in Adrian’s care who are afraid to speak up,’’ Oli­varez wrote.

Oli­varez ne­go­ti­ated to re­sign rather than be fired, signed an agree­ment that en­ti­tled her to about 31⁄2 months of her $65,000-a-year salary but also re­quired that she and her fam­ily “agree to not to make any state­ments that are neg­a­tive, deroga­tory, or dis­parag­ing re­gard­ing the other party,’’ ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments ob­tained by USA TO­DAY.

The univer­sity de­clined to com­ment on the cir­cum­stances of Oli­varez’s de­par­ture “be­cause this is a per­son­nel mat­ter.” Oli­varez did not re­spond to mul­ti­ple re­quests for com­ment made by USA TO­DAY.

 ?? BRAD TOLLEFSON/AP ?? In June 2019, Adrian Gre­gory had signed a new five-year con­tract with the school, which hired her in June 2014.
BRAD TOLLEFSON/AP In June 2019, Adrian Gre­gory had signed a new five-year con­tract with the school, which hired her in June 2014.

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