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Another Texas Tech coach leaves
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.