Debby Jennings suit amended to include Pat Summitt affidavit

Corroborates original claim by Jennings

Amy Smotherman Burgess/Knoxville News Sentinel 
 Debby Jennings, the former University of Tennessee Lady Vols Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations, at Stokely Athletic Center in June 2009. A lawyer for Jennings said the former longtime UT employee was offered the choice on May 15 to be fired, resign or retire by athletic director Dave Hart for "insubordination."

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Amy Smotherman Burgess/Knoxville News Sentinel Debby Jennings, the former University of Tennessee Lady Vols Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations, at Stokely Athletic Center in June 2009. A lawyer for Jennings said the former longtime UT employee was offered the choice on May 15 to be fired, resign or retire by athletic director Dave Hart for "insubordination."

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."

Related documents

Amended and restated complaint by Debby Jennings against UT and athletic director Dave Hart

Pat Summitt's affidavit

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Comments » 154

TNVOLNTX writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

thevoice writes:

The only winners: the attorneys. Dang, I should have gone to law school.

thevoice writes:

Looks like someone will either remain coach emeritus or take the stand and loose the status. Sad.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Well dung....they just took that ragin' bull picture down after leaving it up for what seemed like a week. And now we have to endure that same disgusting look again.

atnvol#283282 writes:

Oh yea....looks like Hart is a short timer now.

virginiavolfan writes:

Dang Pat Summit's memory must be going fast if she can't even remember what was said in the meeting with Hart. Wonder if Hart will use this as his defense. I mean it is possible.

Theo writes:

First off I would love to see pictures of all of those above commenting on the plaintiffs looks. I'm guessing receding hair lines, large guts and ear hair.
Secondly it sounds like Pat originally thought Hart was forcing her out. Related that to the plaintiff and then did not relay subsequent discussions with Hart that apparently cleared up a prior misunderstanding and allowed Pat to set the stage for the coach emeritous. The failure to communicate the results of subsequent meetings does not appear to be planned in amy way. Just, communicated or not via random meetings. I think this explanation clears up the PHS issue.
Regarding the question of discrimination and retaliation we don't have very many facts before us at this time. The percentage of employees from the Women's athletic department fired vs retained could be a very telling statistic. I would guess the attorneys will also check to see what Hart's record at FSU looked like regarding hiring/firing patterns and any other filed complaints.
Something makes me think given the house cleaning Hart did of long time employees of the Women's athletic dept UT might want to settle with no admission of guilt and no further discussion of the suit or settlement. It will be better for all concerned and Hart should watch his macho streak.

mac_b_from_tn writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

Dang Pat Summit's memory must be going fast if she can't even remember what was said in the meeting with Hart. Wonder if Hart will use this as his defense. I mean it is possible.

virginiavolfan, what the hell kind of Vol fan are you making saying something like that? Not much of one I gather. Not much of a decent human either.

BigOrangeSports writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

Dang Pat Summit's memory must be going fast if she can't even remember what was said in the meeting with Hart. Wonder if Hart will use this as his defense. I mean it is possible.

If Dave Hart uses Pat's EOD against her, he might as well have someone pack for him before he goes to court. UT fans will not allow him to set foot back on campus ever again.

Snapshot writes:

in response to TNVOLNTX:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I had to laugh, maybe I shouldn't have....but I did.

I think she is going to find out just because your job is eliminated and you are let go does not mean you were discriminated against. It is a cold world sometimes Deb.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

I don't know nothin!

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to TNVOLNTX:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Bwaahaahaahaa!
Mrs. Doubtfire!

richvol writes:

I love Pat Summitt and no one has done more for the University than her but I could see two years ago that she was not the Pat Summitt that won eight NC. It is Hart's job to do what is best for UT athletics and he did what was inevitable. There were periods during games when Pat was zoned out and not contributing anything. He could not and should not have allowed her illness to allow a further decline in LadyVol BB.

Debby Jennings is full of hate and is trying to destroy the very institution that gave her a great opportunity for thirty years...selfish and pathetic.

volkatwriter430 writes:

Perhaps Dave Hart wasn't a good hire. I had a class with Tyler Summitt, who is a stand-up young man, and I believe from what I got to know of him that Pat Summitt is a strong, solid woman with strong values. She raised a good kid despite her duties as a basketball coach. He's sharp as a tack and appears to have a strong moral code as well. I think she is a great ambassador for the University of Tennessee, and that anyone who wanted to move her out of her position is a fool. I don't think she'd stand up for this woman unless she meant it. Nobody has ever questioned Pat Summitt's integrity, and I think the person who does will be on the losing end of a lawsuit. Let's not forget that Hart is not a UT man, and I think he's definitely showing signs of eroding the orange and white. Perhaps he isn't ready to forget his Crimson Tide roots and wants Tennessee to fail.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say the plot thickens! Witch Doctor say we have denials on both sides...Witch Doctor popping more popcorn to watch unfold. Witch Doctor hope this go to trial so we get good info as in court records from the AD dept finally without all the mixed messages we have been getting. lol.
Bones never lie.

virginiavolfan writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctors only comment about Pat is IF it was time(I DONT know??who really does) and Hart did it because it was best for the program(And behind closed doors). This is the guy I want. This is the guy we need.
Bones never lie.
Witch Doctor wife say THIS is why we cant have nice things...

Ichabod writes:

Debby got a fair settlement from the University. Stay home, walk the dog, take care of the kids, and let your husband be the breadwinner for a while. You deserve it !

chbradshaw writes:

Let's see Debby, why don't you write down all of the accomplishments you had during 30 years as whatever your job was - Lady Vols Media Coordinator - that have made any difference whatsoever or that anyone beyond your little circle cared about.

If you need the back of a second stamp for more room to write let me know.

FWBVol writes:

Everyone needs to read the story again. There are mixed signals being sent about the conversations between Pat and Dave Hart. The story states Pat told several people, including Debby Jennings about the first meeting with Hart. The story also said she had a second meeting with Hart that she told nobody about and in that second meeting Pat and Hart discussed that she misinterpreted what was said before.

I would be interested to know if anyone other than Pat and Hart were in either meeting. Just by the nature of Pat's illness I would hope there were other people present representing her best interests in both meetings.

The thing that bothers me is Debby Jennings now seems to be trying to exploit Pat and her illness in this law suit she has against the University of Tennessee athletic department and Dave Hart. If you ask me, that's not being much of a friend.

Ringleader writes:

You can better understand why the President of FSU said he was a lier, clean out your desk, and get out of here, now! and terminated his contract with no buy out.

virginiavolfan writes:

The womens coaches made more then the mens bball coaches and the women bball team lost 800,000 a year. They were paying assistants like 250,000 a year and Summit 2 million. Hart cut this out and now the money from the football ticket sales can go towards a top notch football coach.

underthehill writes:

in response to TNVOLNTX:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You think it's worse than the one they ran of Chaney...

UTKin1992 writes:

When oh when will this heinous she-beast return to her lair?!

UT4prez writes:

It would be terrible if Dave Hart did force Pat out, which it sounds like he didn't. However, that would be within his right as AD. Pat would not have a discrimination lawsuit if he did that. Possibly a breach on contract but not discrimination. So, Debbie gets mouthy about it by her own admission and Hart doesn't put up with it. Sorry, I just don't see any grounds for a discrimination suit. Even if more were kept from the men's department than the women's that doesn't mean discrimination is involved. I know this is crazy but what if they actually looked at the individuals and made decisions based on the quality of their work? Nah, why would they do that? Or maybe the quality versus the compensation, you know, the value they bring? Nah. That's crazy talk. People having to be hired or retained because of their age, ethnicity, or gender sounds like discrimination to me. I'm all for equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities regardless of who it is. Requiring special treatment may end up punishing someone more qualified though. I get why the laws used to be needed. I think they are antiquated now. It will never fully go away and it's up to individuals to do the right thing. I know discrimination exists but it's a two way street and that seems to always be forgotten. For example, do you think young people aren't treated unfairly at times? Bull. But for some reason only the older get to claim they are screwed due to age. Some claims are legit but most are a fabrication. Don't settle. Fight this baloney and show that UT isn't going to pony up for frivolous claims.

underthehill writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ok then would you have fired Chaney for the way he looks..

Snapshot writes:

in response to volkatwriter430:

Perhaps Dave Hart wasn't a good hire. I had a class with Tyler Summitt, who is a stand-up young man, and I believe from what I got to know of him that Pat Summitt is a strong, solid woman with strong values. She raised a good kid despite her duties as a basketball coach. He's sharp as a tack and appears to have a strong moral code as well. I think she is a great ambassador for the University of Tennessee, and that anyone who wanted to move her out of her position is a fool. I don't think she'd stand up for this woman unless she meant it. Nobody has ever questioned Pat Summitt's integrity, and I think the person who does will be on the losing end of a lawsuit. Let's not forget that Hart is not a UT man, and I think he's definitely showing signs of eroding the orange and white. Perhaps he isn't ready to forget his Crimson Tide roots and wants Tennessee to fail.

".....and wants Tennessee to fail."Really? Now that is just not a very sensible statement.

underthehill writes:

The ratio of men to women working in the Athletic Dept before Hart and after Hart will work in Jenning's favor..the hiring of a male person from Miss State (I think) to replace a female in the women's basketball program (I think) will work in Jenning's favor..sounds like she has an attorney that ain't gonna miss a trick..don't think he will miss this one..my thinking is UT will lose a jury trial and will be smart enough to try to settle...we'll see.

volsmith writes:

I said it last week and I'll say it again, fire Jimmy Cheek and Dave Hart.

vol98champ writes:

As I remember, most were saying that it had to be Pat's decision about when to retire. The only problem with that is that I have known many dementia patients and a common problem is that they can't make a decision.

Snapshot writes:

in response to KremsersWaywardWallop:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

In other words, you are a moron. You have no more idea what when on than anyone else, so stop acting like you do. You are going to hate anyone and everything associated with UT the rest of your life.

ONUV writes:

mr. jennings needs to go away. he's done enough damage with his agenda.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

Dang Pat Summit's memory must be going fast if she can't even remember what was said in the meeting with Hart. Wonder if Hart will use this as his defense. I mean it is possible.

Pat will never take the stand and testify against UT... Would be shocked and am shocked that she shared the meeting with Hart with so many... And shocking that Debbie would even involve Pat with her condition... She must be desperate, 35 years, take your pension and leave...

underthehill writes:

in response to KremsersWaywardWallop:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think Hart was a terrible hire and I don't like the 2 you call Ag-heads..but ..watching Pat try to coach this past year was painful and had to stop..UT handled this is a respectful and compassionate way..hate to see Pat dragged into this mess..My hope is they settle and stop it..if for no other reason that it being in the best interest of Pat..

Theo writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's fairly obvious from your post you've never set foot on UT's campus other than perhaps to attend a football game.

GerryOP writes:

in response to thevoice:

The only winners: the attorneys. Dang, I should have gone to law school.

I agree voice ... either a lawyer or an accountant. Win, lose, or draw, lawyers always get paid ... and an accountant tells the lawyer how much they should be paid! Whatta deal...

GerryOP writes:

They keep referring to "unlawful discrimination." I'm just curious, how do you distinguish "unlawful discrimination" from "lawful discrimination?" Is there a difference?

pcorange writes:

This great university has had enough problems and enough public black eyes lately. This is just another sad chapter in a dreadful book. It's time to move on to a new story.

kti5783 writes:

What purpose does naming Pat Summitt in the suit serve. She wasn't discriminated against. She is physically unable to perform her job. It speaks volumes that she was given the "head coach emeritus" position. If Hart was discriminating against Summitt, I find it hard to believe they would create a position for her like that.

CrankE writes:

Jennings is trying to paint herself with the Pat Summitt brush such that to fire Jennings is to fire Pat Summitt.

1) Yes, another coat of paint would absolutely help Debby. OD Green or primer would do.

2) Apart from that, Jennings probably doesn't have a leg to stand on, legally speaking. Thus, the hail mary play of Jennings acting as if she herself is Pat Summitt will only hold up if Summitt takes the stand and withstands the cross-examination regarding her Alzheimer's. I'm just saying that this is the logical destination for Jennings' kabuki theater.

3) Even if Summitt takes the stand, it won't change the other 98% of the case.

4) Debby Jennings is actually John Adams.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

I'm curious. When Hart told PS that he intended to name Warlick head coach, did he say when? Did PS interpret that to mean he wanted her to step aside immediately? Did he really mean that, when the time comes, I'm going to name Holly Warlick head coach, and I'd like you to stay on as Head Coach Emeritus?

budd#207344 writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You think the women's department was expensive before? Wait til this suit gets settled and you will understand expensive.
Pat Summitt is the face of this university and if this is true we will be made to look like fools. And the financial damage this will do will make Mike Hamilton look like a master mind. So you cheer him on.

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to Element_Days_Are_Over:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Based on this post and prior posts on the same topic, it appears that Element_Days_Are_Over believes that economic reality should play a major role. I agree.

Now I'm just waiting for the reply to my comment stating that both myself and Element_Days are sexists. It's not a matter of male or female with me -- it's a matter of profit or loss.

If somebody will prove to me that the women's basketball program has made a profit and the men's has lost money, I will stand corrected and shut up. But I suspect that exactly the opposite is true.

Prostar writes:

She's only looking for a settlement. As I understand it Tennessee (like Georgia, where I live) is a "Right To Work" state. Which means you work at the will of your employer. You can be fired for any reason or no reason. I think UT has the right to fire her if they so desire. It may not have been handled in the best manner but that's another story.

beatlecakes writes:

I can sum this up by saying "Hart has not heart!"

beatlecakes writes:

in response to UT4prez:

It would be terrible if Dave Hart did force Pat out, which it sounds like he didn't. However, that would be within his right as AD. Pat would not have a discrimination lawsuit if he did that. Possibly a breach on contract but not discrimination. So, Debbie gets mouthy about it by her own admission and Hart doesn't put up with it. Sorry, I just don't see any grounds for a discrimination suit. Even if more were kept from the men's department than the women's that doesn't mean discrimination is involved. I know this is crazy but what if they actually looked at the individuals and made decisions based on the quality of their work? Nah, why would they do that? Or maybe the quality versus the compensation, you know, the value they bring? Nah. That's crazy talk. People having to be hired or retained because of their age, ethnicity, or gender sounds like discrimination to me. I'm all for equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities regardless of who it is. Requiring special treatment may end up punishing someone more qualified though. I get why the laws used to be needed. I think they are antiquated now. It will never fully go away and it's up to individuals to do the right thing. I know discrimination exists but it's a two way street and that seems to always be forgotten. For example, do you think young people aren't treated unfairly at times? Bull. But for some reason only the older get to claim they are screwed due to age. Some claims are legit but most are a fabrication. Don't settle. Fight this baloney and show that UT isn't going to pony up for frivolous claims.

Hart spinmaster running a trot line hoping to snag support. Problem is the writer offers to alternative angle other than mirror...

budd#207344 writes:

in response to Prostar:

She's only looking for a settlement. As I understand it Tennessee (like Georgia, where I live) is a "Right To Work" state. Which means you work at the will of your employer. You can be fired for any reason or no reason. I think UT has the right to fire her if they so desire. It may not have been handled in the best manner but that's another story.

This has nothing to do with "Right to Work". She is trying to prove that Hart has used the consolidation of the two departments to reduce the number of women in positions of power and in any position. The numbers I heard were from a split of 60-40 men to women to now somewhere like 80-20. The excuse of rolling the two together will be challenged by looking at the outcomes of other AD that consolidated programs. Unless I miss my guess no other school is going to be stupid enough to go from 60-40 to 80-20. This means that a federal court will most likely find UT violated the rights of the women in the department and they will all get some sort of relief (compensation). Lawyers in these cases only get paid if they win. So you can bet this lawyer has made sure of his facts. That UT was stupid enough to get caught like this is not a good sign for any of the administration not just Hart. If they did make this mistake the costs are going to be prohibitive. Which means Dooley and his staff are going to be back next year cause UT cannot afford to let them go.

tenn32rebel writes:

in response to virginiavolfan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

VA, had you done that, your employment status would have changed almost immediately to UNEMPLOYED & STUPID!!!

You need to strongly consider embracing this Ben Franklin quote: "It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Razor784 writes:

in response to beatlecakes:

I can sum this up by saying "Hart has not heart!"

Best post i've seen about this mess. I wish they'd send that sorry POS back to Alabama, why in the world did we even hire this low life clown that FSU kicked to the curb

virginiavolfan writes:

I honestly thought the picture in this article was a picture of a janitor in the janitors closest before I read the article. Leave Tenn and Hart alone. Hart is making some tough moves that Hamilton wouldn't and now we are headed back in the right direction. People thought the check Bama wrote Saban was crazy at the time and you see where they are now.

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