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UT fires SJA Director, alleging improper student relationships

8:21 PM, May 14, 2013   |    comments
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  • Jenny Wright photo from twitter

(WBIR-Knoxville) UT's director of student judicial affairs has been fired, after university officials opened an investigation in to whether she had improper relationships with student-athletes.

School leaders say Jenny Wright refused to cooperate with the investigation.

Instead, Wright offered UT her resignation on May 9, but documents show they refused to accept it.

Instead, UT fired her on May 13.

"Your termination is for unsatisfactory work-related behavior," wrote Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Dr. Susan Martin in an email to Wright dated May 13.

Knoxville attorney Robert Kurtz is representing Wright. Kurtz specializes in criminal defense, but both Kurtz and UT say the investigation involving Wright is not a criminal investigation.


Wright denies she had inappropriate relationships with students, according to her attorney.

Wright started as a "student worker" for the university in 2001, and Kurtz says his client later found a "huge calling" in her work with SJA, by helping students who were victims of crime.

She offered her resignation because Kurtz says she believed the university's interest in the preserving the athletic department's reputation would take precedence over "getting to the bottom" of what happened.


He says she feared a "sensationalized" investigation which would hurt her reputation and the students she worked with.

UT Vice Chancellor of Communications Margie Nichols says the university's top priority is "getting to the bottom of what happened," and finding out the truth.


According to documents, UT directed Wright to attend a meeting scheduled for Monday at 9 a.m. to answer questions about her conduct.

A letter between UT's assistant general counsel and Wright's attorney says if Wright did not attend, it would be considered insubordination and they would start the process of firing her.

Her attorney says Wright chose not to attend because she had already resigned.

"There was no point," said Kurtz. "Whatever the questions were, our decision was made."

He also says Wright never attended any formal meetings with the university regarding the investigation.

Kurtz says Wright does not plan to appeal or file any administrative proceedings with the university.

Rather, he says she is focused on moving on.


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