It seems impossible to fathom, doesn't it? But former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt's thoughts on the matter are now a matter of legal record -- part of a signed affidavit in a lawsuit filed against the school by former media director Debby Jennings -- and Summitt's own words clearly indicate she felt like she was forced out of her job by athletic director Dave Hart at the end of her tenure last season.
"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 wrote.
"Dave Hart told me I would still have an office in Thompson-Boling Arena and my title could be Head Coach Emeritus. This was very surprising to me and very hurtful as that was a decision I would have liked to make 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."
As you already know, Summitt is as legendary as college hoops coaches get, the winner of 1,098 games, a beloved pillar of not only the Tennessee community but women's athletics writ large. Before her final season, she was also diagnosed with early-onset dementia, a condition that was seen to have played a role in what at the time appeared to be her decision to step down. The end of Summitt's career was in some ways already sad enough, but it was easy to draw inspiration from the coach's own positive outlook, and the way the Volunteers seemingly handled the departure with tact. If that was not the case, expect widespread outrage from UT fans. More to come, to be sure.