Just one day after it was reported that in a sworn affidavit Pat Summitt initially felt as if she were being forced to retire as head coach by Dave Hart, the game’s all-time wins leader denied that she was pushed out.
In a statement obtained by the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Summitt said that due to some “misunderstandings” in regards to her testimony she wanted to provide clarification.
In the statement Summitt cites her health (she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia before the season began) and conversations with family and friends as the reason for her decision to retire.
While the school still has the lawsuit filed by former employee Debby Jennings to address, Summitt’s statement keeps Tennessee out of what could have been another messy public relations situation.
Below is the statement that Summitt released earlier Friday:
I am aware from media attention over the past few days that my affidavit attached to recent court filings in a dispute between Deborah Jennings and the University of Tennessee has resulted in some misunderstandings regarding my departure as Head Coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols. As a result, I feel it is important on my own initiative to provide this clarification.
It was entirely my decision to step down from my position as Head Coach of women’s basketball at the University of Tennessee. As I stated at my press conference in April when I announced my decision, I loved being the Head Coach for 38 years, but, after consultation with my son, my doctors, my lawyer, and several close friends, I concluded that the time had come to move into the future and step into a new role. I have welcomed and enjoyed my new role as Head Coach Emeritus, and I am excited for the opportunities that now await my dear friend and colleague Holly Warlick as Head Coach.
I did not then, and I do not now, feel that I was “forced out” by the University. Anyone who knows me knows that any such effort would have met with resistance. If my affidavit has caused confusion on that point, it needs to be dispelled. In connection with my move from Head Coach to Head Coach Emeritus, the University has treated me with the utmost respect and graciousness, as it always has throughout my tenure as Head Coach.
Summitt moves into the role of head coach emeritus, where she will be an incredible resource for new head coach Holly Warlick to call on when needed.