Summitt: Stepping down was 'very surprising, very hurtful'

Summitt: Stepping down was 'very surprising, very hurtful'

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UT Athletics Director Dave Hart (left) and Pat Summitt announced on April 19 she would step down as head coach. UT Athletics Director Dave Hart (left) and Pat Summitt announced on April 19 she would step down as head coach.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - University of Tennessee Lady Vols Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt says Athletics Director Dave Hart asked her to step down as head coach.

In a sworn affidavit related to a lawsuit filed against the university by former Lady Vol Media Director Debby Jennings, Summitt describes Hart's request as "very surprising to me and very hurtful."

Summitt's statement was taken on August 10 and added as a supporting document to Jennings' lawsuit. In the lawsuit the former media director claims she and numerous female officials in the athletic department were forced out of their positions.

Summitt claims in her affidavit that Hart approached her on March 14 with his decision to replace Summitt with current head coach Holly Warlick. The conversation took place prior to the team traveling to Chicago, Ill. for the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

"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)," Summitt said according to the affidavit filed Wednesday.

Summitt continues in the affidavit, claiming Hart's message was contradictory to the way she wished to handle the situation.

"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."

The statement in the affidavit contradicts what Summitt told the media and others gathered at her farewell news conference.

"I guess I just felt like it was time for me to step down, knowing that Holly was going to be into great hands," Summitt said at a news conference April 19.

In a statement released last week, Vice Chancellor Margie Nicols said allegations asserting that Summitt was forced out are "absolutely not true."

"It was Pat's idea to become head coach emeritus," Nichols said in a statement to 6 News. "She made that clear at her press conference earlier this year."

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