Was Pat Summitt forced out at Tennessee?

Pat Summitt was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last year. (AP photo)

Pat Summitt was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last year. (AP photo)

Is it possible the most successful coach in the history of women’s basketball was forced out of her job?

According to documents filed in a lawsuit, University of Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt says athletic director Dave Hart told her she would not return after the 2012 season. Summitt, 60, was diagnosed last year as being in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to a story in USA Today, Summitt’s statement was made in an affidavit supporting a lawsuit against the school and Hart brought by former associate athletics director Debby Jennings, who alleges gender and age-based discrimination. Jennings left Tennessee this year at age 57.

In the lawsuit, Jennings claims Hart, citing “insubordination,” gave her the choice of “retiring, resigning or being fired” May 15, exactly two months after she sent Hart an email in protest of his alleged decision to remove Summitt and make her “head coach emeritus.”

Summitt’s affidavit says Jennings was one of a handful of people she told about the meeting with Hart.

When the suit was filed last week, university spokeswoman Margie Nichols told the Knoxville News-Sentinel the allegation involving Summitt “is absolutely not true. It was Pat’s idea to be head coach emeritus.”

Summitt’s affidavit contradicts that: “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 to be told this by Mr. Hart. I felt this was wrong.”

Summitt later says Hart met with her again and indicated she misinterpreted what he said but that she didn’t tell Jennings about that meeting.

Summitt coached at Tennessee for 38 seasons. She had a record of 1,098-208 and won 16 SEC championships and eight national championships.

12 comments Add your comment

Rocky Pop

October 4th, 2012
9:16 am

Pat Summitt deserved much, much better, just as America has deserved better for the last 12 years, especially the last 4.

Bill

October 4th, 2012
11:40 am

If this is true, Dave Hart has no place at the University of Tennessee.

Andy

October 4th, 2012
11:41 am

Dave Hart had no business doing that, just as Rocky Pop has no business injected politics into an article that has nothing to do with it.

Janet

October 4th, 2012
11:46 am

I think we all should write Dave Hart regarding his treatment of Pat and ask for his resignation. We owe Pat Summitt alot for what she has done for UT and women’s basketball.

[...] Summit forced out? [...]

Jo Turner

October 4th, 2012
1:04 pm

Hart OUT, Joan Cronan IN.

Did Dave Hart Force Pat Summitt Out?

October 4th, 2012
4:59 pm

[...] Now that the debate news cycle is over, this thing’s popping up everywhere, like in the AJC, The Chicago Tribune and USA Today which ran the headline Summitt: Tennessee AD told me I [...]

Sid

October 4th, 2012
6:25 pm

Andy

October 4th, 2012
11:41 am

Dave Hart had no business doing that, just as Rocky Pop has no business injected politics into an article that has nothing to do with it.
********************************************************************
Loosen up Andy, I thought it was fine and accurate.

Johnyy

October 4th, 2012
11:11 pm

Sounds like UT has some serious problems with covering up stories. First trying to cover up the fraternity incident that was reported wrongly with UTPD and now athletic officials that deny the truth. Sounds about right, UT.

Jay

October 5th, 2012
11:14 am

I have not dog in this fight. However, it is obvious Hart needs to hit the road. Making such a decision with Pat Summitt is sheer stupidity. She has earned the right to go out on her own terms.

catlady

October 5th, 2012
9:32 pm

Remove Hart(less)! I’d like to see UT show some guts on this!

I don’t care what is wrong with Pat. She is one of about 5 people that have done a WORLD of good for women’s athletics! Actually, I cannot think of the other 4 but I am sure they are there.

The Real Fan

October 6th, 2012
2:19 pm

Sid

October 4th, 2012
6:25 pm

Andy

October 4th, 2012
11:41 am

Dave Hart had no business doing that, just as Rocky Pop has no business injected politics into an article that has nothing to do with it.
********************************************************************
Loosen up Andy, I thought it was fine and accurate

Just because you think so doesn’t make it the case.
It wasn’t and it isn’t.
Nothing about this has ANYTHING to do with the election.