Pat Summitt insisted in a statement released Friday afternoon that she was not forced out as the head women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.
"It was entirely my decision to step down from my position as head coach of women's basketball at the University of Tennessee," Summitt said in a statement intended to clarify "some misunderstandings" resulting from her sworn affidavit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.
The affidavit was filed as part of Debby Jennings' lawsuit against the University of Tennessee and athletic director Dave Hart. Jennings, the former Lady Vols associate athletics director for media relations, abruptly departed in May. She filed suit on Sept. 27, alleging "unlawful discrimination and retaliation."
In the affidavit, Summitt said that Hart indicated to her during a meeting on March 14 that she would not be the head coach next season. She told several people about this meeting, including Jennings, the affidavit stated. But Summitt did not tell them that Hart later told her that she had misinterpreted what he said, according to the affidavit.
"I did not then, and I do not now, feel that I was 'forced out' by the university,'' Summitt said in Friday's statement. "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."
Summitt, who announced in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, stepped down on April 18 after 38 years as head coach to become a head coach emeritus. In Friday's statement, Summitt said that she reached her decision "after consultation with my son, my doctors, my lawyer and several close friends."
In her new role, Summitt has a one-year deal with a salary of $354,375. Summitt said the university has treated her with "the utmost respect and graciousness" regarding the transition.
The university issued its own statement that said, "We stand by Pat and her statements, both today and at her press conference in April that it was her decision to step aside as head coach and become head coach emeritus."
UT's statement also said, "We are eager to respond to the other allegations in the lawsuit and will do so through the judicial process."
Jennings' lawyer, David A. Burkhalter, said in a statement that the suit doesn't allege that Summitt was forced out. Instead it alleges that Jennings acted on what she had been told by Summitt and suffered for it.
"Debby then contacted Dave Hart in good faith on March 15, 2012, and she advised him what Pat had told her to make him aware because he should know this, and if it was true, she told him she opposed it as discriminatory and wrong and she asked him to please reconsider it," Burkhalter said. "The suit alleges in response Mr. Hart got very angry at Debby, she was retaliated against, and this was a factor in the decision to fire Debby a few months later."