According to a report from a law firm hired by the school to conduct an athletics department review, the school has taken numerous steps “designed to support the physical and mental health and well-being of its students, including its student-athletes” since an investigation by The Intercollegiate led to the firing of Texas Tech’s women’s basketball coach in August 2020, followed by the forced resignation of its softball coach the following month.
However, the report, which was released late Wednesday afternoon after more than a year of work, discovered ongoing issues, including specific issues with the football, women’s basketball, and men’s golf teams.
In football, according to a report from the firm Holland & Knight based on a review of various Texas Tech teams’ specific rules in place for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, the football team’s rules contain a “‘Date Rape and Social Policy’ that should be carefully reviewed and edited” by the school’s Title IX office, as well as “outdated and troubling language” on how players should handle team issues.
The report also stated in a section about diversity and inclusion, “In end-of-year surveys, a football student-athlete used the derogatory term ‘no homo’ in his athletics end-of-season comment sections, clearly indicating that he was comfortable using the term within Athletics.” Football was the only sport in which staff and student-athletes stated that it would be unsafe for students to disclose their LGBTQIA status.”
In women’s basketball, the team rules “impose yearlong curfews unrelated to team travel or contest preparation, prohibit players from having guests in their residences after curfew, and state that members of the coaching staff may conduct random curfew checks at player residences,” according to the report.
In men’s golf and football, the report discovered team rules that “described conditioning punishments for failure to meet certain team expectations and were not in alignment” with athletics department policy or NCAA medical recommendations that “exercise should never be used for punitive purposes” in athletics.
Furthermore, the rules “were also in conflict with the medical and strength and conditioning staff’s statements in interviews that conditioning punishments were not permitted at Texas Tech,” according to the report. The report also said that the firm had found that this had occurred “with oversight for the punishment assigned in at least one instance to a junior member of the strength and conditioning staff.”
According to the report, athletics director Kirby Hocutt stated that the two teams’ rules no longer include these provisions.
The report detailed the school’s changes and education efforts in areas such as athletes’ ability to report problems to athletics and school administrators, coaches’ use of data from wearable biofeedback devices, religion’s role in team activities, and its medical, mental health, and nutritional support of athletes.
It outlined 14 “concrete steps” taken by the school during the law firm’s year-long review. “The report acknowledges that we have already taken and will continue to take the necessary steps to support our student-athletes,” said school president Lawrence Schovanec in a statement.
The report indicated that potentially problematic rules existed with other teams. The women’s basketball rules were cited as an example after the report stated that teams other than the football team “have incorporated rules that impose restrictions on student-athletes that are not enforceable, i.e., rules that prohibit the sharing of scholarship information, or place restrictions on players that are not reasonably related to the student-athlete’s athletics participation.”
The coaches of the teams were not named in the report. It only mentioned “the former football head coach” and “the former staff” in the case of the football team. On October 25, the team’s head coach, Matt Wells, was fired.
“This matter had no basis on Matt’s termination,” athletics department spokesman Robert Giovannetti said via text message Wednesday night.
While former Baylor assistant coach Joey McGuire has been hired to replace Wells, the school’s athletics website shows Wells’ assistants remaining in their positions. In addition, McGuire announced on Wednesday that offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who has been serving as interim head coach, will be retained.