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Friday, October 5, 2012

Pat Summitt Forced Out?

A lawsuit by a former Tennessee athletic dept. official, claims she was forced out by the AD because of some combination of her age and her fighting to allow Pat Summitt to stay at Tennessee.

This is Pat Summitt's affadavit in the case.

This is an article explaining it....

Debby Jennings' lawsuit against the University of Tennessee and athletic director Dave Hart was amended Wednesday in response to a UT official refuting the original suit's claim that Hart told former women's basketball head coach Pat Summitt that she would not be coaching the team during the 2012-13 season.

The amended complaint was filed in federal court by Jennings' lawyer, David A. Burkhalter. The document included a sworn affidavit from Summitt, corroborating the original suit's claim of a meeting between Summitt and Hart, which took place on March 14, the day before the team traveled to Chicago to begin the NCAA tournament. In the affidavit, Summitt said that Hart told her that he planned to name Holly Warlick head coach. Summitt went on to say that Hart told her that she "would still have an office at Thompson-Boling Arena and my title would be head coach emeritus."
Summitt said that she told several people about the meeting, including Jennings, who was the Lady Vols' associate athletics director for media relations. Summitt also said in the affidavit, which was notarized on Aug. 10, that she didn't tell these people of speaking again with Hart subsequent to March 14 and Hart indicating that Summitt "misinterpreted what he said."
In response to the suit's claim involving Summitt, UT spokesperson Margie Nichols last Thursday said, "that statement is absolutely not true. It was Pat's idea to be head coach emeritus."
Summitt stepped down on April 18 to become head coach emeritus for the program. At that time, Summitt said the decision was hers and that she was comfortable with it. Assistant coach Warlick was promoted.
Nichols' quote is included in the amended suit and referred to as "an additional act of retaliation" against Jennings that basically characterized her as "a liar."
UT athletics spokesperson Jimmy Stanton offered no comment via text message Wednesday night.
Jennings' suit, which was initially filed last Thursday, alleges "unlawful discrimination and retaliation" after her abrupt departure this spring from an athletic department that she served for more than 35 years as the primary media contact for Lady Vols athletics.
Acting on her knowledge of Summitt's conversation with Hart, Jennings sent an email to Hart asking him to reconsider his decision regarding Summitt, which Jennings said, "in view of Pat's condition is discriminatory and wrong."
Summitt announced in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia Alzheimer's type.
Hart's email response to Jennings regarding Summitt said that her email was "so inaccurate on so many levels, that it does not warrant a meaningful response."
Jennings' suit contends that her opposition to Hart's treatment of Summitt was a factor in Hart's decision to give Jennings the choice during a May 15 meeting to be fired for "insubordination," resign or retire from her position. Jennings, 57, says in the suit that this was the first time she had heard from Hart — or anyone else — that he felt Jennings had allegedly been "insubordinate."
In her affidavit, Summitt described Jennings as "a loyal employee of the University of Tennessee" and someone who was "instrumental in helping to develop the Lady Vol brand into the positive national symbol of excellence in intercollegiate athletics that it has become. The Lady Vol logo is known worldwide."
Summitt, in turn, offered her thoughts on Jennings' departure.
"Prior to Debby Jennings termination, I was not consulted by Dave Hart, the UT Athletics Director," Summitt said in the affidavit. "But had I been consulted I would have requested that he reconsider termination, and try another alternative, such as disciplinary action, if he felt that was necessary."
In the affidavit, Summitt described the March 14 meeting with Hart as being "surprising" and very hurtful." She also mentioned another meeting with Hart, on Feb. 15, during which he told her of his intentions to place all UT athletics teams under the Power T logo.
"I was angered," Summitt said in the affidavit, "when he came out in an interview with the media in May 2012 and denied that he ever intended to do away with the Lady Vol logo."

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