Ugliness at Tennessee:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An attorney says Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart gave the woman in charge of media relations for the Lady Vols less than four hours to decide to retire or be fired for “insubordination” earlier this month.
David Burkhalter wrote to Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek that the “ultimatum” to Debby Jennings came in a meeting May 15, according to records first obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel on Wednesday.
“She was told she had the ‘choice’ of retiring, being terminated and/or resigning and she was to give Mr. Hart her decision by 4:30 p.m. that same day before he left on the Big Orange Caravan or she would be terminated for alleged ‘insubordination,’ ” Burkhalter wrote to Cheek. “She then returned to her office to find that while she was in the meeting her computer had been confiscated and you can understand how this made her feel as if she was being treated as a common criminal.”
Tennessee had no immediate comment Wednesday afternoon.
Debby Jennings, who spent her career helping enhance the image of the University of Tennessee athletics, is considering legal action following her abrupt departure from the program she served for 35 years as the primary media contact for Lady Vols athletics.
Jennings, who is the only media relations director recently retired basketball coach Pat Summitt ever had, was the associate athletic director for media relations when UT announced her retirement last week.
Jennings’ attorney, David Burkhalter, said first-year UT athletic director Dave Hart offered his client the choice on May 15 to be fired for “insubordination,” resign or retire. The letter was obtained by the News Sentinel through a public records request.