ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Former players and their parents are speaking out as allegations against UTPB head women’s soccer coach Carla Tejas surface.
Tejas was arrested and charged with a DWI on Sept. 11. Following the breaking of that story, an anonymous group claiming to be student-athletes, sent a 1,154-word letter to the NCAA, the Lone Star Conference and university officials alleging things ranging from illegal activity to NCAA infractions to inappropriate conduct.
The players wish to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. However, former players and their parents have come forward with similar allegations against Tejas during her time on the coaching staff of other universities.
“I feel like the experiences of all her players need to be shared and she’s been able to intimidate all of her players into silence since she’s began coaching,” Noelle Hill, a former goalkeeper at Belhaven University, said. Coach Tejas spent two years as a graduate assistant at Belhaven.
A parent of another Belhaven player, who wishes to remain anonymous, says they emailed UTPB Athletic Director Todd Dooley upon hearing Tejas was offered the head coaching position at UTPB. The email outlined specific interactions with players and echoed much of what the anonymous UTPB players alleged.
The email said Tejas was put on administrative leave at her most recent job before UTPB, Louisiana Christian University, for “accusations she made inappropriate passes to some of the girls.”
“She intimidates them and threatens them if they don’t do exactly as she wants, they will not play, even if they are one of the best players on the team and works hard, she only plays her favorites, which in my opinion are girls from other countries and are on scholarships,” the email states.
A group of former Belhaven players has come forward to our staff with similar experiences as the UTPB allegations.
“She would yell at me constantly about not eating, but she would make fun of what I weighed because she would weight us, before and after practice,” former Belhaven goalkeeper Lilli Denson said. “She belittled me so much that I actually contemplated suicide my sophomore year so I went and saw the counselor and she diagnosed me with severe anxiety.”
“She’s telling me everybody hates me and nobody wants me on the team and this had been after a few months of abuse from Carla. That was the tipping point with a lot of other things that had gone one mainly from Carla and Kimberly Harrell that led to me attempting suicide that day,” former Belhaven soccer player Nolyn Murphy said.
Murphy says they are speaking out how to support the anonymous athletes who came forward with the allegations.
“I think you should come forward and say everything you have to say because, five years ago when this was happening to me and my team here, we brought it to the athletic director’s attention and there was nothing attempted to try and resolve, but 5 years later here we are and people are listening to us,” Murphy said.
UTPB Athletic Director Todd Dooley spoke at the weekly UTPB athletics press conference reiterating their initial statement that the department will have no comment as the investigation continues. Tejas was put on paid administrative leave.
“Our focus has always been and will always be unwavering support for student-athletes. Period. That doesn’t change now or ever. So I want to make that perfectly clear. Our support is clearly squarely on our student-athletes,” Dooley said.
The athletic department said UTPB men’s assistant soccer coach Elmer Zayala will take over for the women’s team during Tejas’ leave.
We will continue to follow this story and update as more information becomes available