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Summitt backs up Jennings in lawsuit against UT

5:47 PM, Oct 3, 2012   |    comments
Pat Summitt and her dog Sadie
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Lady Vols Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt is backing up her former media director in a lawsuit against the university, but still does not confirm the allegation that she was forced out as head coach.

Debby Jennings, the long-time coordinator who worked closely with the Lady Vols and Summitt, claims she was forced to retire, and is suing UT and Athletic Director Dave Hart for discrimination and retaliation.

In the suit, Jennings claimed that Hart also forced Summitt out of her job.  When Summitt announced she was  stepping down as head coach, Summitt said it was her idea to step down because of her battle with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

On Wednesday, Jennings' attorney filed an amendment to that suit that included an affidavit from Summitt.

Summitt begins with praise for Jennings and the work she did at UT.  Then she talks about a meeting with Hart on March 14, before the 2012 NCAA tournament. 

"During this one-on-one meeting, Dave Hart indicated to me that I would not be coaching the Lady Vol Basketball Team in the next school year and he planned to name Holly Warlick as the head coach.  Dave Hart told me I would still have an office in Thompson-Boling Arena and my title could be Head Coach Emeritus.  This was very surprising to me and very hurtful as that was a decision I would have liked to have made on my own at the end of the season after consulting with my family, doctors, colleagues, and friends and not be told this by Mr. Hart.  I felt it was wrong."

Summitt goes on to say that she told several people about the meeting with Hart, and about how hurt she was by his decision, including Debby Jennings.  That backs up Jennings claims in her lawsuit, but the final line of the affidavit qualifies those remarks:

"Unbeknownst to the individuals I shared this upsetting news, Dave Hart spoke with me again, subsequent to the March 14, 2012, one-on-one meeting, and indicated that I misinterpreted what he said."

The affidavit does  not give a date for that subsequent meeting.

The University has not yet issued a response in answer to Summitt's affidavit, but has always maintained that it was Summitt's decision to step down.  She did become head coach emeritus and her long-time assistant, Holly Warlick, was named the new head coach.


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