The affidavit, which was acquired Aug. 10, 2012, was witnessed by Pat Summitt’s personal assistant, LaTina Haynes, and notarized. Knoxville lawyer David A. Burkhalter submitted the sworn affidavit to U.S. District Court six days after filed a discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Deborah K. Jennings.
Jennings was Summitt’s media relations chief for 35 years and was forced to resign – her position was not among those cut in the merger of the men’s and women’s athletics departments – last May. A statement released by Tennessee and Dave Hart said that Jennings was divisive and insubordinate.
“Jennings was a loyal employee of the University of Tennessee, a tireless worker, and a great ambassador,” Summitt said. “To my knowledge, she was very competent in the various jobs she performed for UT and was one of the most decorated and
honored women in collegiate athletic media relations. She was trusted employee after working side by-side for 35 years.”
Summitt also confirms Jennings’ account of a March 14, 2012, meeting – the day before the team left for Chicago to begin the NCAA Tournament – in which Hart met with Summitt.
“During this one-on-one meeting, Dave Hart indicated to me that I would not be coaching the Lady Vol Basketball Team in the next school year (2012-13), and he planned to name Holly Warlick as the head coach," Summitt stated. " … 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 told this by Mr. Hart. I felt this was wrong."
Summitt added that Hart later told her that she “misinterpreted" what he said.
Summitt also stated she requested a meeting with Hart in February of 2012 because she had heard that he intended to discontinue the Lady Vols logo. Her affidavit states that Hart told her he wanted to place all teams, men and women’s, under the “Power T.”
In an interview with the Knoxville paper in May, as part of SEC spring meetings, Hart said he had not discussed removing the Lady Vols logo.
“I was angered 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,” Summitt stated.
Tennessee could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening. Jennings referred all questions to Burkhalter.
The affidavit appears to have been filed in response to Tennessee's official statement last week that Summitt made the decision to become head coach emeritus, as stated at her press conference in April. The amended complaint cites this statement as an act of retaliation against Jennings by essentially calling her a "liar" since Jennings' lawsuit said Summitt told her about the meeting with Hart in March.
Summitt’s affidavit can be read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE.
Jennings’ lawsuit has been amended to include the affidavit and to also ask that Tennessee not retaliate against Summitt or question her loyalty to the university.
The amended complaint can be read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE.