It's the first day of college basketball practice (remember when it used to be Oct. 15? Those days are long gone). And so we bring you this story from Tennessee where longtime media director Debby Jennings is suing the school after she was forced to retire in May.
Jennings worked at Tennessee for 35 years and was the media director for the Lady Vols. She kept impeccable records for the women's basketball program. And anyone who has covered women's basketball knows how much history was lost before schools decided that female student-athletes were worth their attention. She guided the media around Pat Summitt, a task that certainly could not have been easy.
According to the article on ESPN.com: "The suit charges that she lost her job either due to her gender and age or out of retaliation for her advocacy of gender-equity issues, opposition to discrimination against female student-athletes and opposition to sex, disability or age discrimination."
The University at Tennessee is combining its men's and women's athletic departments. UT was one of the last (if not the last) institution of higher learning which had separate structures to run intercollegiate athletics. It doesn't seem that they're moving away from "Lady Vols" but without Summitt and Jennings around, I can't help but wonder if that moniker will be phased out. Again, UT is one of the few schools which feminize its nickname. The arguements for and against are both compelling, and too long to dive into here. But the branding and marketing (and hence merchandizing) which comes from the "Lady Vols" brand probably brings in too much money to phase out. Phasing out people, well, that's a horse of a different color.
--- Amy Moritz
Photo from cosida.com