Dave Hart says Debby Jennings 'fostered an atmosphere of negativity and division'

"Although I do not normally comment on personnel decisions, given the nature and volume of inaccurate information that has been disseminated from those around Debby Jennings, I believe it is necessary to set the record straight. I lost confidence that her employment was in the best interests of the Athletics Department. Specifically, I concluded that she was insubordinate, disrespectful and fostered an atmosphere of negativity and division.

"Based on her years of service, she was eligible for full retirement from the University, including medical benefits. I gave her the opportunity to retire instead of being terminated, and she chose that option. I will have no additional comment at this time, and I wish Debby well in her future endeavors."

Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Dave Hart has responded to the threat of legal action concerning Debby Jennings' departure from the athletic department by issuing a statement that said that the former associate athletics director for media relations was "insubordinate, disrespectful and fostered an atmosphere of negativity and division."

"I lost confidence that her employment was in the best interests of the Athletics Department,'' Hart said Thursday.

After 35 years as the primary media contact for Lady Vols athletics, UT announced Jennings' retirement last week.

"Based on her years of service, she was eligible for full retirement from the University, including medical benefits,'' Hart said in his statement. "I gave her the opportunity to retire instead of being terminated, and she chose that option."

More details later online and in Friday's News Sentinel.

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 92

jimn245 writes:

i say Mr. Hart is on his way back home to Alabama

rocky_topper writes:

Good job, Hart. Clean them out!

VolzsFan writes:

Why? For jettisoning baggage?

volboy81 writes:

Its too bad long-time employees are being let go there, but none of us knows what goes on behind the doors of the AD, so we have to trust those in charge. It will all come out in the wash, so if someone's not doing their job the way it should be done, we'll know sooner or later...and so will they! This goes on everywhere, especially when there is as much turnover as there has been at UT in the last 4 years (thanks, Mike!) and with the 2 AD's becoming one...corporate America kicks in...someone always pays. When all is said and done, I still say GO BIG ORANGE!!!

Pullingguard writes:

in response to jimn245:

i say Mr. Hart is on his way back home to Alabama

Why So.... He is just getting out some of the stagnation that was residing on the hill.. After 35 years one can become entrenched as believing they have seen it all, know it all, and objective to change and new ideas..Retiring with full benefits and medical, what else does one want... Be happy.

rocky_topper writes:

100K annually is a little much to pay any bellhop! Once the leadership dispersed, the cronies were exposed and now it's time to cull these assistants. I support Hart. He was brought into a bad situation where monies were spent like there was no end to them, and that is going to change. I applaud him.

Can't wait for football!

keepitreal4vols writes:

You can't spell Dirty laundry without a U&T.

UTQB70 writes:

Thank you, Dave Hart!!

jpark001 writes:

Next questions to answer here will be: Did Jennings employer owned computer e-mail and hard drive contain additional supporting evidence of the insubornation that they (UT) alleged at termination and in Hart’s statement here and was that an additional reason UT seized the computer when they did?

Certainly Jennings attorney’s underlying meaning within that litany of e-mail and hard drive requests was his concern over something else within?

Developing.

ChurchHillVol67 (Inactive) writes:

Dave Hart is doing a fine job!!!! It is time to clean house..

Bubba_Knows writes:

In reading these comments, we are truly a House Divided! I don't know what happened so I will refrain from commenting about Debbie Jenning's dismissal other than to say that she should have taken the package. Always take the package!

Col26ca writes:

My trust will be in Dave Hart. He was not hired to be popular but to clean up a mess made by a very likable and Christian good guy, but who was totally out of his league as an AD. While not always agreeing with his actions I trust that he is trying to guide a massive ship in the right direction. That being said we must trust him to do the right thing for the university. If he does the wins will come, the coaches will stay, the athletics will graduate, the NCAA will stay away, the alumni will be happy and the donors will increase. As someone who has had to make very hard and many times unpopular decisions during my life I will allow him the opportunity to prove his worth. Surely if the above things do not happen then he will be replaced possibly along with those who hired him. But in the long run remember he oversees a department of games. It is not life and death decisions that he must make as some of us have had to make in the past, present and the possibly the future. Let's cut him some slack and welcome him to the family.
GBO

jimbotn writes:

If this employee was the person described by Hart, Pat Summitt would have fired her decades ago. Period. Let's have a show of hands for those who think Hart is a better judge of personnel than Coach Summit. Women's athletics thrived under the leadership being shown the door by Hart. Let's see how it does now that the men are taking over.

FearlessFreep writes:

I don't profess to know what happened here, but culture change is often very hard. The women's department has been completely separate and autonomous forever. Folding them into the umbrella of the Men's department was bound to ruffle more than a few feathers. Change is a difficult thing and it's my guess that they tried to have her do things she wasn't comfortable doing, and she responded in kind.

So the truth as usual probably lies somewhere in the middle - Hart would have preferred Jennings be a part of his 'streamlining' and she wanted to continue on as normal. Both have strong personalities and obviously things went south from there.

CroKev writes:

Hart gets paid to make just these kinds of decisions. He's Dooley's, Martin's, Summitt/Warlick's, etc. boss. Hart is not going to make the same mistake that the AD at Ohio State made when he forgot that Tressel actually worked for him. Hart consolidated men's & womens' sports under one umbrella and saved a boat load of money in doing so.

What surprises me is the language and tone of what Hart said about Jennings. She must have really stepped over the bounds for him to do such a thing in this litigious society in which we live. I hope UT doesn't cave in and settle with a boatload of money.

RememberTheVols writes:

Hart has brought nothing but chaos to the UT Athletic Department.

Henley-Street-Bridge writes:

I bet you $100 she goes to work shortly with Gloria Ray at the Tenn State Office of Alternative Lifestyles under Gov. Haslam.

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to Bubba_Knows:

In reading these comments, we are truly a House Divided! I don't know what happened so I will refrain from commenting about Debbie Jenning's dismissal other than to say that she should have taken the package. Always take the package!

Probably not a package out there that she would accept.

WetumpkaThumpa writes:

in response to RememberTheVols:

Hart has brought nothing but chaos to the UT Athletic Department.

If Hart has brought nothing but choas then what do you call the huge mess that Mike Hamilton brought?????????? Hart is doing what needs to be done. You need to REMEMBER the big mess that the whole Men's Athletics Department was under Hamilton and still is thanks to Mike Hamilton...Sometimes I wonder if some of you people were born yesterday?

RoadTrip writes:

Hart is just doing and saying what he should be doing and saying. It is way past time to clean things up in the UTAD. The average fan has no idea of the junk that's been going on there for years. I am liking him as the AD more and more every day.

volthrunthru#658770 writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

100K annually is a little much to pay any bellhop! Once the leadership dispersed, the cronies were exposed and now it's time to cull these assistants. I support Hart. He was brought into a bad situation where monies were spent like there was no end to them, and that is going to change. I applaud him.

Can't wait for football!

You are so full of manure that you could be an Alabama athletics director.

That athletics program was one of the best in the country, overall, until the middle of the past decade. Mike Hamilton was a doofus, appointed because he made those in charge--BOT, others---feel safe. He was a nincompoop.

The women's athletics department was the best in America, based on Pat Summitt, alone. Hart's pushing her out---calling her emeritus, when she was and still is clearly in possession of her full faculties---shows just what kind of a two-bit creep the sleaze-ball-Bammerite is.

Don't tell me how clean he is, and how is supposed to clean up the UT athletics department. He was at FSU when it went postal and self-imploded. Hart is FSU's screw-up, like Hamilton is UT's.

Neither should have been nor should be running major college sports programs, just like the twit who is currently Chancellor needs to be doing logistics at one-car funerals---except that would tax his intellect.

One of the four or five best departments in either sports, prior to Hamilton, in America, and some of you doofus creeps are blood-thirsty because you have never been anywhere yourselves, or are so young or incompetent that you are not old enough to have done anything except be jealous of those in power.

This creep and his boss are and have been hosing the people who made this generation of UT's athletics departments great---and you are too damxxed dumb to comprehend it.

He is getting rid of anybody who knows more than he does---and many do. He is barely able to be running a laundromat, much less a 100++Million $ enterprise. He knows that some of the screwups he ALREADY did can harm him, as people who know what they are doing find out.

And word is beginning to get out about his covering for a couple of UT coaches...consulting agreements he has signed, etc, etc...and some of the garbage he left behind at Bama and at FSU, w/FSU's probations, Bama's rumored payoffs, etc.

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Why do I sense more substantial payouts in the near future from our Athletic Department?

tennrich1 writes:

in response to Ears_Whitworth_in_Orange_Pants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey throw out the facts and truth and lets go for a ride....NEVER let the facts get in the way of a good law suit...Friend trust me you have NO CLUE as to what you're saying....But you certainly have a right to say it....just want all to know you're vomiting out junk...

tennrich1 writes:

in response to volthrunthru#658770:

You are so full of manure that you could be an Alabama athletics director.

That athletics program was one of the best in the country, overall, until the middle of the past decade. Mike Hamilton was a doofus, appointed because he made those in charge--BOT, others---feel safe. He was a nincompoop.

The women's athletics department was the best in America, based on Pat Summitt, alone. Hart's pushing her out---calling her emeritus, when she was and still is clearly in possession of her full faculties---shows just what kind of a two-bit creep the sleaze-ball-Bammerite is.

Don't tell me how clean he is, and how is supposed to clean up the UT athletics department. He was at FSU when it went postal and self-imploded. Hart is FSU's screw-up, like Hamilton is UT's.

Neither should have been nor should be running major college sports programs, just like the twit who is currently Chancellor needs to be doing logistics at one-car funerals---except that would tax his intellect.

One of the four or five best departments in either sports, prior to Hamilton, in America, and some of you doofus creeps are blood-thirsty because you have never been anywhere yourselves, or are so young or incompetent that you are not old enough to have done anything except be jealous of those in power.

This creep and his boss are and have been hosing the people who made this generation of UT's athletics departments great---and you are too damxxed dumb to comprehend it.

He is getting rid of anybody who knows more than he does---and many do. He is barely able to be running a laundromat, much less a 100++Million $ enterprise. He knows that some of the screwups he ALREADY did can harm him, as people who know what they are doing find out.

And word is beginning to get out about his covering for a couple of UT coaches...consulting agreements he has signed, etc, etc...and some of the garbage he left behind at Bama and at FSU, w/FSU's probations, Bama's rumored payoffs, etc.

May I here and now nominate you for "Moron of the Year"....You CLEARLY have no idea and have a huge axe to grind....grind away my friend, grind away...

thevoice writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Why do I sense more substantial payouts in the near future from our Athletic Department?

I sense the same thing. I believe the payouts will be going to the attorneys working to defend the university. Just a hunch.

SewaneeVolFan writes:

Not going to claim I know what has gone on at UT, either from the AD or Ms. Jennings.

I am sorry any time someone loses a job in this economy, and I value anyone who has worked for 35 years at UT. Whether Ms. Jennings was insubordinate or divisive is something I know nothing about. However, she must've been doing SOMETHING right to have been kept on so long, especially in connection with a perfectionist like Pat.

In the same way, I don't have an informed opinion on whether the AD will turn out well or not. However, I would venture to say that you can't get to the positions he's gotten to without having SOME clue what he's doing.

But I wear the orange sunglasses, liked Mike Hamilton, and loved fellow Franklin Countians Majors and Fulmer. If breaking these eggs makes a good omelette for UT, then -- painful though it must be for some -- I support it. GBO

citizenkane writes:

in response to LincolnMKS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen to that statement about entitlement and pride. I do feel sympathy for her since her career is ending on a sour note, but hopefully she can see that retirement is a pleasure and a new chapter of her life.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say "Voldoll"? Witch Doctor say cut these cancerous people out of the program. Witch Doctor say good job Hart..more to cut.
Bones never lie.

Witch_Doctors writes:

*Witch Doctor say her computer wasnt taken for emails as someone said..they are server based and there forever..her computer was probably(?)taken for her internet cookies from bad mouthing the WHOLE program like on this site..who is next? lol. Witch Doctor say kick these traitors out now..rebuild with people whom actually LOVE Tennessee and aint there for just a paycheck and what gossip and trouble they can cause. Good bye trash.
Bones never lie.

kennypowers writes:

in response to lemme_axya_this:

Probably not a package out there that she would accept.

Well done. "That's what she said" would have been too easy.

Witch_Doctors writes:

*Yea this one WONT go to court. YES lets hear the facts...her and her cheap suited attorney will never go to court, too many things about how she acted will come to light..AND just who she betrayed at Tennessee.
Gooodbye! Trash!
BNL

chuckfromwoodberry writes:

My guess is she worked for Coach Summitt for 35 years and couldn't or wouldn't accept anyone else as her boss. That attitude probably came through since she knew she was already fully vested as far a retirement goes. And she lied when she said she would be without medical coverage. As for the confiscation of her computer, its standard operating practice to either lock you out of the company system or take possession of the company computer, or both once it has been determined you will no longer be with the company.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

Have no idea who was in the wrong.
I will say this, I am surprised by how many claim to know.
Then again, I really am not that surprised.
Btw, CfromWB: Confiscating a computer is standard, deleting certain e-mails is not. Not sure that really happened but there is a difference.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to chuckfromwoodberry:

My guess is she worked for Coach Summitt for 35 years and couldn't or wouldn't accept anyone else as her boss. That attitude probably came through since she knew she was already fully vested as far a retirement goes. And she lied when she said she would be without medical coverage. As for the confiscation of her computer, its standard operating practice to either lock you out of the company system or take possession of the company computer, or both once it has been determined you will no longer be with the company.

Witch Doctor say she probably much much worse. Witch Doctor say that computer will keep her and her two dollar attorney from ever stepping foot in a courtroom probably. Witch Doctor say what if(?) its revealed she was the one leaking info to Pats recruits about Pats health or eventually stepping down OR the person who tipped the NCAA about Pearl? OR the constant leaks(that narrowed it down to her) to certain people in the media?? Witch Doctor popping popcorn! lets watch !!! lol
Bones never lie.
*under oath would probably get half the AD dept walked out the door...goodbye Trash!!

Taylor writes:

When an employee is constantly complaining about age and gender discrimination and creates disturbances and negativity, it creates a problem. Especially if the discrimination claims are false, and are regarding other employees. It seems this employee's attitude deteriorated and she was given a nice package to retire. She wasn't entitled to this job for life, and should have considered the repercussions to her allegations and charges against the university. I support our AD in cleaning up the very fat Athletic Departments at UT.

murrayvol writes:

in response to jimn245:

i say Mr. Hart is on his way back home to Alabama

I say you have no idea what you're talking about.

orangepeel writes:

in response to jimn245:

i say Mr. Hart is on his way back home to Alabama

As far as I am concerned Hart should have never been hired in the first place. Who in their right mind would hire an Ala man to the AD position at UT. Ranks right up there with hiring Bill Battle ( Ala man ) to coach the football team.

ONUV writes:

Go Dave!

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to FearlessFreep:

I don't profess to know what happened here, but culture change is often very hard. The women's department has been completely separate and autonomous forever. Folding them into the umbrella of the Men's department was bound to ruffle more than a few feathers. Change is a difficult thing and it's my guess that they tried to have her do things she wasn't comfortable doing, and she responded in kind.

So the truth as usual probably lies somewhere in the middle - Hart would have preferred Jennings be a part of his 'streamlining' and she wanted to continue on as normal. Both have strong personalities and obviously things went south from there.

Great post

Titan writes:

If Hart is evaluating staff on how well they do their job, then Bumbling Bob Kesling should be the next one shown the door. If that happens, I say give Dave a raise.

tanasi2 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ArmyDad writes:

in response to andforhisnexttune:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It wasn't her computer. It belonged to the University of Tennessee. Jennings worked for UT, and not the other way around.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to tanasi2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say yikes!! Witch Doctor not think sexual preference but rather traitors and back stabbers of not just the MENS teams but the WOMENS program and Pat..lets watch and see if she goes to court..nope as it will tell on her. Witch Doctor bet a lot of money this was vetted thoroughly thru many UT attorneys before this happened. Shes a traitor to the school and students of Tennessee. buh bye trash!
Bones never lie.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to volman2010:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

WOW, A political slam, a Hart slam and a Vandy praise , all in one statement.

rocky_topper writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say she probably much much worse. Witch Doctor say that computer will keep her and her two dollar attorney from ever stepping foot in a courtroom probably. Witch Doctor say what if(?) its revealed she was the one leaking info to Pats recruits about Pats health or eventually stepping down OR the person who tipped the NCAA about Pearl? OR the constant leaks(that narrowed it down to her) to certain people in the media?? Witch Doctor popping popcorn! lets watch !!! lol
Bones never lie.
*under oath would probably get half the AD dept walked out the door...goodbye Trash!!

Bingo! The lawsuit will never come due to everything that is ready to be set into motion about just why she was let go.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to ArmyDad:

It wasn't her computer. It belonged to the University of Tennessee. Jennings worked for UT, and not the other way around.

Witch Doctor bet for Hart to come out with this statement the computer has all they need to hang her in court for the betrayal she has been apart of for a LONG time. Witch Doctor bet she slithers away and this story dies on the vine.
Bones never lie.
*lets watch and see.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to rocky_topper:

Bingo! The lawsuit will never come due to everything that is ready to be set into motion about just why she was let go.

Witch Doctor say Harts statement says "lets do this in court" Bet she and her attorney go away soon. She betrayed Pat/Womens programs/mens/students of Tennessee. Yea LOVE to see this go to court..ouch!@ lol
Bones never lie.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor bet for Hart to come out with this statement the computer has all they need to hang her in court for the betrayal she has been apart of for a LONG time. Witch Doctor bet she slithers away and this story dies on the vine.
Bones never lie.
*lets watch and see.

Clarkdoctor says, In the end, neither side wants everything made public and of course, the story dies.
Seems there are 2 sides to every story.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Clarkrm0706:

Clarkdoctor says, In the end, neither side wants everything made public and of course, the story dies.
Seems there are 2 sides to every story.

Witch Doctor pretty sure she and her attorney will never pursue this as how bad is it that it happens this way?(this stuff takes months to determine/research and vette against the legal). Witch Doctor say not everyone in the AD dept likes working with people like her and her credibility is zero except with the ones she engaged in this stuff with. Witch Doctor say you cant grow a crop with a field full of moles. Hart is clearing the field so Tennessee both Womens and Mens sports have a chance. Witch Doctor believe more to come.
Bones never lie.

Classof72 writes:

One cannot credibly come up with insubordination, etc., charges out of the blue. Specifics should have been formally brought to the attention of the employee on a timely basis as they arose, an opportunity for response provided, and opportunity to correct any deficiencies given. In absence of documented progressive communication and discipline, Hart's position on its surface seems to be grossly unfair and unsupportable. Perhaps the record will come out in further proceedings. FSU appears to have made a sound decision on Hart, if this matter as it stands is any indication.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features