Tyler Summitt, the son of trailblazing University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, has resigned as the head coach of Louisiana Tech’s women’s basketball team over an inappropriate relationship with a player.
Multiple sources aware of the situation said the unidentified woman is pregnant with Summitt’s child, SB Nation’s blog Swish Appeal reported.
The 25-year-old Summitt, who is married, released a statement Thursday announcing his abrupt departure from the university.
“I am profoundly disappointed in myself for engaging in a relationship that has negatively affected the people I love, respect and care about the most. My hope, plans and prayers are to repair those relationships,” Summitt said.
“I am appreciative of the opportunity I was given to coach at Louisiana Tech. I am heartbroken that my time has ended in Ruston, but because of my respect for the institution, it is best that I resign,” Summitt continued. “I am hopeful the media and the public will respect the privacy of my family and me as we deal with this difficult situation I have caused.”
Few other details on the alleged liaison have been released.
Summitt, who earned $175,000 a year, was head coach of the Lady Techsters for the last two seasons. He left the job with an overall losing record of 30-31, the Shreveport Times reported.
When he took over for former coach Teresa Weatherspoon, a retired WNBA player, his focus was on changing the basketball program’s culture. In 2014, the Times reported Summitt was axing players who didn’t meet five standards: belief, family, character, competition, and toughness.
“There have been difficult decisions which will happen with any coaching transition. But one of those standards is character and if you cross that line, you won't be a Lady Techster,” said Summitt, whose Christian identity earned him a story on Billy Graham’s website.
“Lady Techsters walk in a certain way, they talk in a certain way. I have to thank (athletic director) Tommy McClelland because he's had my back in every decision,” the coach added, according to the Shreveport paper.
Before taking the job at Louisiana Tech, Summitt served as Marquette University’s assistant coach for women’s basketball, overseeing skill development and acting as scouting coordinator, according to the school’s athletics website.
Summitt graduated from the University of Tennessee, where his mother coached the Lady Vols for 38 years before her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease caused her to step down in 2012, ESPN reported.
He was a student assistant coach for his Hall of Fame mother and also co-founded The Pat Summitt Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Pat Summitt left basketball with eight national titles and 1,098 victories—the most wins of any basketball coach in NCAA history, CNN reported in a 2014 feature on the mother-son coaching team.
Pat Summitt considered Tyler, her only child, as her greatest achievement, according to CNN.
“I guess inside I always expected he would want to coach," Pat said. “I just hoped, like any parent, that he would find something he loved to do.”
The news about Tyler dishonors his mother’s legacy.
As coach for the Lady Vols, Pat was relegated to second-class gyms and made to wash uniforms and even drive the team van, CNN reported. But she fought for her female athletes to receive equal treatment as their male counterparts.
“Basketball was a way for her to instill confidence in young women,” Tyler told CNN, “a way for her to help women try to get on the same level as men.”
Tyler married his high school sweetheart Anne Dennis “AnDe” Ragsdale in 2013. The couple has no children. According to her Facebook page, Anne works at a physical therapy firm.
In its own statement on the resignation, Louisiana Tech did not allude to Summitt’s reported affair with a college athlete.
“Effective immediately and for personal reasons, Tyler Summitt has stepped down as head coach of Louisiana Tech University’s women’s basketball program,” the university said. “The university has accepted his resignation and appreciates the contributions he has made to the growth and success of the Lady Techsters program during his tenure.
“Louisiana Tech will immediately begin the process of selecting a new head coach to lead the women’s basketball program and student-athletes forward. Louisiana Tech wishes Tyler and his family the best of luck in the future.”