Is the Texas Tech Softball Program Broken?
Over the weekend the Texas Tech Athletics Department announced that the entire Red Raiders softball coaching staff had been relieved of their duties.
Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt announced Sunday that head softball coach Sami Ward and her coaching staff had been relieved of their duties, effective immediately.
“We believe it is in the best short and long-term interest for us to make a change at this time,” Hocutt said via TexasTech.com. “We have very high expectations for success in all our programs, and we believe we can be a prominent softball program.”
In the meantime, Brooke Reed has been named as the interim head coach for the Big 12 tournament. Reed has been at Texas Tech for nine seasons as the Director of Operations on the softball staff.
The Red Raiders weren't particularly bad this year, certainly not bad enough to force an early change after just two seasons. Though they were pretty bad in conference play with a 5-13 record. The previous Texas Tech softball coach, Adrian Gregory, quit in September 2020 after allegations of misconduct.
Was Ward fired for similar reasons after just two seasons in Lubbock?
According to some former Red Raiders softball players, that might be the case.
I don't know that back-to-back coaches with issues in the program are necessarily indicative of a broken program, but how about three straight coaches? Shanon Hays also resigned his post in 2014 after five seasons at Texas Tech. Three straight coaches ending on less than ideal terms seems like a pattern.
The odd part of the Texas Tech softball program is that they've had a long list of talented players come through the system, but the administration just can't seem to hire the perfect coach.
Dozens of recent players spoke out on behalf of interim head coach Brooke Reed as a bright spot in a tumultuous time for many of them on campus. Several said they were proud to call themselves Red Raiders again in support of Reed.
I have no doubts that Texas Tech softball can see success at Texas Tech as many other spring sports have done. It’s certainly not been because of a lack of talent lately; it's just been a program issue that needs to be fixed before success can be manifested.
The softball program has had eight coaches since returning to Texas Tech in 1996. The baseball team has had three head coaches since 1986.
It's hard to place blame on any singular person when it comes to the Texas Tech softball program's shortcomings in the last decade, but the hiring process and oversight have obviously been lacking in retrospect.
One reason the Ward hire might not have been vetted properly to predict this sort of outcome is that the job search took place starting at the end of September. That’s a really tough time to hire a new coach with the start of the season months away at their existing program, much less starting fresh with Texas Tech.
What I do know for certain is that Texas Tech is becoming a real destination for coaches and players in the rest of the athletic department, and there's no reason the softball program cannot be that as well.