(WBIR-Knoxville) Details about the health of Lady Vols Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt are at stake in a lawsuit that pits the University of Tennessee against a longtime employee.
Debby Jennings spent 35 years with the Lady Vols as media director. She filed a lawsuit against UT and Athletic Director Dave Hart two years ago, claiming age (then 57) and gender discrimination forced her to retire.
Both Hart and UT deny the allegations.
Jennings believes Summitt experienced the same treatment after doctors diagnosed her with early on-set dementia in 2011. That is Jennings' reasoning for mentioning Summitt in the lawsuit.
But UT filed a motion for a protective order on June 20 to keep Summitt's illness and departure as head coach out of the lawsuit.
Jennings' attorney, David Burkhalter, said granting the school's motion would kill Jennings' lawsuit.
In Jennings' response, she said, "I am not, nor would I ever try to exact revenge against the University of Tennessee at the cost of Pat Summitt's good name or reputation, both of which I safeguarded for over thirty-five years in my role at U.T."
According to Jennings, Hart told Summitt that she would not be coaching the Lady Vols in the 2012-2013 school year. In a statement, Jennings said, "She was visibly upset when she told me this."
Coach Summitt's son, Tyler, responded , "I immediately suspected that Mom was confused by, or in some way misunderstood her conversation with Dave Hart."
Tyler goes on to say when he spoke to Hart, the athletic director expressed shock and suggested there was some misunderstanding.
The document goes on to say that after Tyler spoke with his mother, "she agreed that she must have misunderstood Mr. Hart."
Tyler also told Jennings that "he did not want his Mom's health being a focus" of the case.
Summitt later said, "I did not then, and I do not now, feel that I was 'forced out' by the University." A trial date has not been set.