Court dismisses parts of Marlene Stollings’ lawsuit against Texas Tech, keeps others

Local News

FILE – In this Jan. 25, 2020, file photo, Texas Tech head coach Marlene Stollings reacts to a play in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor in Waco Texas. Texas Tech women’s basketball players have accused Stollings and her staff of fostering a culture of abuse that led to an exodus from the program, according to a report published Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in USA Today. (AP Photo/Rod Aydelotte, File)

LUBBOCK, Texas — On Thursday, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed parts of a lawsuit filed against Texas Tech University and TTU Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt by former head women’s basketball coach Marlene Stollings. The court did not dismiss the entire lawsuit, however.

The two key parts of the lawsuit left standing were Stollings’ Title VII discrimination claim and her Title IX retaliation claim against Texas Tech.

Stollings filed the lawsuit in October 2020. She was fired by Texas Tech after a USA Today article accused her and the Lady Raider basketball program of abusive behavior.

In the lawsuit, she claimed that she was terminated without cause by Texas Tech and that the University and Hocutt failed to pay her as required by her contract.

This claim was dismissed because of a legal concept called sovereign immunity. In most cases, sovereign immunity means people cannot sue government officials or government agencies. There are, however, exceptions to the rule.

The court also said sovereign immunity protects Texas Tech and Hocutt from Stollings’ claims of fraud and fraud inducement.

While the court dismissed a Title VII discrimination claim against Hocutt, it found that Stollings adequately alleged a Title VII claim against Texas Tech.

This doesn’t mean that the court agrees that Texas Tech discriminated against Stollings on the basis of her sex. The court simply found that, if all her claims are taken at face value, she has legal standing to sue Texas Tech.

The court found the same in regards to a retaliation claim for reporting a Title IX violation. The court dismissed the claim against Hocutt, but agreed that Stollings had adequately argued a Title IX retaliation claim against Texas Tech.

The court will allow Stollings to amend her complaint to just include the Title VII discrimination claim and the Title IX retaliation claim. She will need to file the amended complaint within 21 days.

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