According to a sworn affidavit former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt stated that she initially felt she was being forced to retire by athletic director Dave Hart.
The affidavit was filed as a supplement to former Lady Vols media director Debby Jennings’ lawsuit, in which Jennings alleges that she was forced to retire after 35 years at the school.
In the lawsuit Jennings is alleging that the University of Tennessee discriminating against her due to both her age and gender led to Jennings’ forced retirement.
In the suit it is stated that Jennings protested that Summitt being diagnosed with early-onset dementia protected her due to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Jennings’ suit also argued that Hart retaliated against Jennings when she protested that Summitt’s early onset dementia protected her from losing her job under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Jennings said in the original complaint that Summitt informed her of Hart’s intentions after that March meeting. Jennings indicated in the suit that she sent a written protest to Hart asking him to reconsider, and that he sent her an angry email in response.
According to Summitt’s affidavit Hart notified her of his plan to make Holly Warlick, who was Summitt’s longtime assistant, head coach while making Summitt head coach emeritus in a March 14 meeting.
“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 doctors, colleagues and friends and not be told this by Mr. Hart,” Summitt said in the affidavit. “I felt this was wrong.”
Hart would later tell Summitt that she misunderstood his words according to the affidavit, and school spokeswoman Margie Nichols told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the new position was Summitt’s idea.
Summitt retired as the all-time wins leader in college basketball with 1,098 victories to go along with eight national titles, but this lawsuit could make what outsiders likely thought was a seamless transition look anything but.
According to the Associated Press neither school officials nor the Summitt family had any comment in regards to the affidavit outside of Nichols’ brief dispute of the account.
So was Summitt ushered out of the position or not? The lawsuit that Jennings has filed could very well reveal the answer to that question.