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Mark Adams, Texas Tech Reach Settlement on Separation

The Texas Tech men’s basketball program has been through a whole lot over the past couple of years. After guiding the Red Raiders to unprecedented heights, Chris Beard left Lubbock to take the Texas job following the 2021 season. Instead of undergoing a national search to replace Beard, Tech AD Kirby Hocutt opted instead to promote assistant Mark Adams to the head coaching position.

In the early going, it appeared as if Adams was the perfect choice for the job. During his time as an assistant, Adams was credited with helping the Red Raiders become one of the best defensive teams in all of college basketball, and that carried over in his first year as the head man. In route to a 27-10 record and an appearance in the Sweet 16, Texas Tech rated #1 in defensive efficiency at KenPom. Moreover, the Red Raiders swept Chris Beard’s Texas Longhorn team during the regular season, further elevating Adams’ approval rating in Lubbock. As a result, he received a contract extension through the 2027 season.

Entering the 2022-2023 season, expectations were high for Adams’ team. The Red Raiders were ranked in the preseason for only the third time in program history and were among the favorites to compete for a Big 12 conference championship. However, things went south quickly as the Red Raiders lost their first eight games in conference play and failed to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2015.

Despite Texas Tech’s struggles in year two, you didn’t see Adams’ name on “hot seat” lists or anything of that ilk. Being an alum and largely perceived as the “good guy” following Beard’s departure to rival Texas, it felt like Adams would at least get another season to right the ship in Lubbock. However, that notion quickly changed last week when reports surfaced that Adams made “racially insensitive comments” to a player in practice.

Texas Tech initially suspended Adams ahead of their first game at the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, but just days later, it was announced that Adams’ time as head coach in Lubbock was over. However, given that Adams had significant time left on his recently extended contract and nearly $7.5 million owed to him (if he was fired without cause), there was still a lot to sort through.

In the end, Adams’ camp and Texas Tech reached a settlement. The university agreed to pay Adams $3.9 million of the $7.5 million originally owed, fewer taxes and withholdings, plus a $200,000 retention bonus in a legal. Tech agreed to pay the settlement within 30 days. In addition, the settlement included that Adams would receive any bonuses he earned this year, which could include ones for the team's academic performance.

Overall, it feels like a fair separation agreement for a situation that didn’t look salvageable in Lubbock. Nonetheless, it goes to show how quickly things can change in college athletics after his tenure got off to such a good start.

In today’s environment, coaches can’t get away with some of the things they may have been able to back in the day. Not that it was ever okay to utter racially insensitive or demeaning comments to players, but in today’s environment, these are the types of situations that cost coaches their jobs. Is holding coaches accountable in these matters a bad thing? Absolutely not. In the past few years, we’ve seen coaches across multiple sports like Gregg Marshall (Wichita State MBB), Todd Graham (Hawaii CFB), Nino Giarratano (San Francisco Baseball), and a handful of others get ousted for poor treatment of players. Hopefully, we don’t see more in the foreseeable future.

Texas Tech is actively searching for its third coach in four seasons. For a school that competes in the best conference in college basketball, has passionate fans, and decent tradition, let’s hope the Red Raiders can find a coach that can stabilize a program that has experienced no shortage of turmoil over the past few years.

Brendan can be found on Twitter @_bbell5

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