Since an investigation by USA TODAY Sports and The Intercollegiate led to the firing of the Texas Tech women’s basketball coach in August 2020 followed by the forced resignation of the softball coach the following month, the school has taken several steps “designed to support the physical and mental side.” The health and well-being of its students, including student-athletes,” according to a report by a law firm that the school maintains for an audit of the athletics department.
But the report – released late Wednesday afternoon after more than a year of work – also found persistent problems, including specific issues with the football and women’s basketball and men’s golf teams.
► IN FOOTBALL: Based on a review of the rules for various Texans technical teams in place for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, the report by Holland & Knight said the soccer team’s rules contain a “”rape of history and social policy” that should be carefully reviewed and edited” by the school’s Title IX office, as well as “outdated and worrisome language” about how players handle team issues.
► In a section on diversity and inclusion, the report also stated: “In year-end surveys, student football used the derogatory term ‘no homo’ in end-of-season comment sections for athletics, clearly indicating that he was comfortable using the term within athletics. It was a ball Football is the only program where staff and student-athletes have stated that student-athletes would not feel safe to share their LGBTQIA status.”
► In women’s basketball: Team rules, according to the report, “impose a year-long curfew unrelated to team travel or competition preparation, prohibit players from receiving guests at their residences after the curfew, and state that members of the coaching staff may conduct random curfew inspections .in the players’ residences.”
► In men’s golf and soccer: The report found that team rules in effect in 2020-2021 “prescribed conditional penalties for failing to meet certain team expectations and were not in accordance with” Athletics Department policy or NCAA medical recommendations that ” The exercises should never be used for punitive purposes” in athletics.
Additionally, the report said that these rules “also conflict with medical data, strength, and staff conditioning in interviews that police penalties are not permitted at Texas Tech.” The report stated that the company found that this occurred “with the oversight of punishment assigned in at least one case to a junior member of the force and personnel conditioning.”
The report stated that athletics director Kirby Hocott stated that the rules of the two teams no longer contain these provisions.
The report details changes and educational efforts the school has made in areas including the ability of athletes to report problems to athletics directors and principals, coaches’ use of data from wearable biofeedback devices, the role of religion in team activities, medical and mental health, and nutritional support for athletes.
Investigation:Texas Tech women’s basketball players describe toxic culture
More coverage:Softball coach steps down after review
It listed 14 “concrete steps” the school had taken during its year-long law firm review. “The report acknowledges that we have already taken and continue to take the necessary steps to support our student-athletes,” school president Lawrence Schovanek said in a statement. “As we continue to implement the additional suggestions of the report, I am confident that Texas Tech will remain at the forefront in meeting the health and well-being needs of student athletes.”
The report noted the existence of potentially problematic bases with other teams. The women’s basketball rules were cited as an example after the report stated that teams other than the soccer team “have incorporated unenforceable student-athletes rules that prohibit the sharing of scholarship information, or place limits on players who are not reasonably associated with the participation of Student athletes in athletics”.
The report did not mention the names of any of the two teams’ coaches. In the case of the football team, it only referred to “former football coach” and “former staff.” Matt Wells was fired as the team’s coach on October 25.
“This matter has no basis for Matt’s termination,” IAAF spokesman Robert Giovanniti said in a text message Wednesday night.
While the school has hired former Baylor assistant coach Joey McGuire to replace Wells, the school’s athletics website shows that Wells assistants are continuing their roles. On Wednesday, the school announced that offensive coordinator Sonny Combi, who had been serving as interim head coach, would be retained by McGuire.
Wells, who was hired by Texas Tech in late November 2018, had an overall record of 13-17 with the school (7-16 in the Big 12 Conference play). During a news conference after his dismissal was announced, Hocott said Welles is a “very good man” and “always acts with integrity and character. … Matt Wells has done a lot of things right. The performance on the court did not match our team’s expectations.”
According to the report, the football team rules provisions that are “not yet processed as of the date of this report”, dated November 23, contain language that “instructs players to” always keep all football business [i]Within the football family, “and to avoid being a ‘locker room lawyer,’ a term commonly used to describe players who advise other athletes on their individual rights. The rules further state that ‘locker room lawyers will not continue!” and “Never will Nobody listens to you.”
The report stated that the Panel’s “History of Rape and Social Policy” stated:
“Being a college football student automatically exposes you to the audience no matter the situation, so think and be one in class at all times. Studies have shown that a third of sexual assaults on college campuses have involved student athletes. These crimes are punishable by law and up to 30 years in prison. …Take your time to think before you act. Don’t put yourself in an unprofitable position.”
The policy tells players to keep in mind a series of seven statements, including:
“Believe that does not mean no!”
“One never owes you sex – never!!!”
“Never initiate intercourse or have sex if the woman is drunk or fainting.”
“Sexual attacks on any individual will not be tolerated.”
The policy adds: “Alcohol and drugs were a factor in more than 75% of rape and sexual violence cases on campus. In any court, this would fall under the rubric of “rape.”
The report says the athletics department should “review the teams.” [sic] rules carefully and remove these provisions that are unenforceable, outdated, or inconsistent with Texas Tech’s policies and procedures designed to support the welfare of student athletes. However, reviewing the problematic team rule will not address the limitations unless the team culture underlying the rule is also addressed.”
Among its separate recommendations, the report says school officials should “interview with the football team, coaches and sports-specialist staff to address directives set by former coaching staff not to talk to others outside the program about the program.”