Tyler Summitt steps down as head coach of Louisiana Tech for “engaging in a relationship that has negatively impacted the people I love”
- 4/8/16 Update: Athletic director holds press conference, explains timeline
- Video and complete transcript of 4/8/16 press conference
Tyler Summitt, the second-year head coach of Louisiana Tech and son of legendary former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, stepped down from his position due to what he described as “engaging in a relationship that has negatively impacted the people I love.” The move came after the university became aware of an alleged inappropriate relationship between Summitt and a player on the women’s basketball team.
Louisiana Tech and Summitt issued the following statements.
From Louisiana Tech:
“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 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.”
From Tyler Summitt:
“It is with great regret that I resign from my position as head coach of the women’s basketball program at Louisiana Tech University. I am profoundly disappointed in myself for engaging in a relationship that has negatively affected the people I love, respect, and care about most. My hope, plans, and prayers are to repair those relationships. 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. I am hopeful the media and the public with respect the privacy of my family and me as we deal with this difficult situation I have caused.”
The program finished 14-16 this season with a 9-9 record in Conference USA play. During Summitt’s first season the team earned a 16-15 record and was 10-8 in league play. He has a record of 30-31 overall as a head coach.
Summitt shut down his Twitter account and Facebook public page today as well. Louisiana Tech introduced him as the head coach on April 1, 2014. The hire raised eyebrows in the coaching community as he was just 23 years old when he began the job as head coach. His previous experience included two years as an assistant coach at Marquette University. He got married in 2013.
Two former Marquette guards followed Summitt to Ruston. He took over the job after Louisiana Tech legend Theresa Weatherspoon was fired in mid-March 2014 with a 99-71 record over six years.
Summitt’s annual salary was $175,000. During his tenure he was also reimbursed for use of a personal vehicle for university-related activities and received a country club membership.
The situation is also affecting the program’s recruiting. Class of 2016 signee and four-star point guard Jaida Roper (Memphis, Tenn.) announced via Twitter on Thursday that she de-committed from Louisiana Tech. According to ESPN, the school put her release request on hold as Roper signed a National Letter of Intent.
Class of 2017 guard Madison Washington (Red Oak, Texas) dropped her verbal commitment.
The university’s athletic director Tommy McClelland held a press conference Friday afternoon regarding the resignation of Summitt.
“Allegations of a possible inappropriate relationship were brought to our attention,” said McClellan when explaining the timeline. “We immediately began an investigation into these allegations. Prior to the conclusion of that investigation Tyler chose to resign his position yesterday and we accepted his resignation.”
The timeline of Summitt’s resignation as relayed by McClelland:
- 10 a.m. Louisiana Tech president Leslie Guice, athletic director Tommy McClelland and Summitt met. At the end of the meeting Tyler offered his resignation.
- 3:55 p.m. “We issued a press release.” [A press release was sent to some media. There is no press release on the university’s athletics website about Summitt’s resignation].
- 4 p.m. McClelland met with his athletic department senior staff to make them aware of Summitt’s resignation.
- 4:30 p.m. McClelland reach out to associate head coach Mickie DeMoss. She is out of the country on vacation. He reached her by phone to inform her of Summitt’s resignation and offered her the interim head coach position. She accepted. No discussions occurred about DeMoss taking over permanently as head coach. She returns to LaTech on Sunday and McClelland will talk with her about her possible interest in taking over the program permanently and immediate plans.
- 5:30 p.m. McClelland met with the women’s basketball program, “not just the team but everyone associated with the program…from managers, trainers, students obviously.”
“It was a very somber and emotional setting,” he said.
Friday evening, Louisiana Tech issued a press release announcing DeMoss as the head coach.
Complete transcript of press conference
Louisiana Tech athletics director Tommy McClelland
Obviously, this has been a very disappointing and heartbreaking situation for everyone involved. This is a difficult time for everyone, but especially for our women’s basketball program and student-athletes. Their well-being comes first and foremost in everything that we do. We are trying to provide for them all of the necessary support, love and tools to get through this time. We appreciate you respecting their privacy through the transition. This has been a trying time on [University President] Dr. Guice, myself and everyone involved in the process. Please understand that there are just certain things that I am not going to be able to say, as it gets into personnel and privacy issues. There will be questions that you want to ask that I just cannot answer. I am sure you understand that.”
“I want to start by saying the allegations of a possible inappropriate relationship were brought to our attention and we immediately began an investigation into these allegations. Prior to the conclusion of that investigation, Tyler [Summitt] chose to resign from his position yesterday and we accepted his resignation.
On timeline of Thursday, April 7:
“Dr. Guice and I met with Tyler [Summitt] at 10 a.m. yesterday morning. At that conclusion of that meeting he offered his resignation and we accepted. At 3:55 p.m., we issued a press release that all of you received with statements from the University and statements from Tyler Summitt. At 4 p.m. I met with the athletic department’s senior staff to make them aware of Tyler’s resignation. As you can understand, any time there is a coaching change your staff is the one involved in the logistics, paperwork and transition. I had to immediately notify my staff, so we had a staff meeting at 4 p.m. We let them know the situation and begin to ask questions. It was a very quick turnaround.”
“At 4:30 pm. I reached out to [Louisiana Tech associate head coach] Mickie DeMoss. Unfortunately she is out of the country on vacation but I was able to reach her by phone. I notified her about Tyler’s decision to resign as head coach and I offered her the position of interim head coach. She has accepted that, so as of yesterday at 4:30 p.m. Mickie DeMoss is our current interim head coach for the Lady Techsters. No further discussions happened at that time as it relates to Coach DeMoss in her possible interest in being the head coach. It would not have been appropriate to have that conversation over the phone. She gets back into town on Sunday and my intention is to meet with her one-on-one, not only to talk about her possible interest [in the head coaching position], but for the immediate plans for the program and the daily things that have to go on. I am happy that she has accepted that.”
“At 5:30 p.m. I met with the women’s basketball program, not just the team, but everyone associated with the program. Everyone that has a stake in the women’s basketball program was there, including managers, athletic trainers, coaches, players and as you can imagine it was a very somber and emotional setting. We laid out some facts and about the meeting that occurred at 10 [a.m.]. We told them that Mickie [DeMoss] had already been named interim and although she was not there, she was the boss. If they had any questions, they could reach out to her and the staff. We talked about the daily things, getting back into academics, getting back on to the court, getting back into the weight room and doing the things that we need to do to make sure we are not losing focus. It was a very emotional meeting, but nonetheless a meeting that needed to take place and provide some structure as we move forward.”
On having to hire a new head coach two years later:
“When you hire a coach, most are hired with a five-year contract. Tyler [Summitt] was no different. That is an expectation. This is what it takes to build a program, or whatever the case is. It does not matter whether it is women’s basketball, golf or baseball; it takes a lot of energy to turn around a program. Anytime there is a change in leadership, it is disruptive. It does not matter if it is positive change. Last year [former head men’s basketball coach] Michael White left to go to Florida. It was negative in that we lost him, but it was positive for him. It is still disruptive. I am very disappointed we are looking for a new coach after two years.”
On candidates in mind:
“If you have a coach that is not performing well, going down the stretch you might already be considering a direction. In the case of Coach [Michael] White last year, the previous year people made runs at him, so you are always thinking. In a situation like this, not that you are not thinking but it is not as prevalent to be thinking about. There is a lot of interest in the job. Yesterday, as news broke and into today, there have been a lot of people reaching out. It has been a unique experience for me, because in the past you go immediately from one transition to the next. This is different. I feel like there needs to be some breathing room for me, personally, to be able to wrap my mind around some things as we move forward. I have gotten emails that I have not responded to. I am not in coaching search mode right now. Part of that is that I need to talk to Coach DeMoss and figure out where her head is at and where mine is at in regards to the program. It is a very unique situation in that you have named an interim, but she is not even here. She and I need to sit down and talk. If she is interested in the job, she will be a candidate, just like anyone else that is interested.”
“It is about the transition right now and transition into our next phase, which is focusing on hiring a new head coach. I do not have anyone in particular in mind. This is still a great program. We are the second winningest program in the history of women’s basketball. That has not been removed from yesterday or today. That is a fact. Just because Coach Summitt is no longer our coach does not mean that anything has been changed. I told the ladies in the locker room yesterday that I am as focused today, maybe even more, in finding the best coach to lead them and give them the best experience possible than I have ever been. For me, it is the same. I will attack this like I have any coaching search, like I did two years ago with this search, to find the best person to come in here and lead these ladies. I have not and will not give up on the Lady Techsters.”
On what additional areas of support have been offered to members of the women’s basketball team:
“Obviously I have an open-door policy [with all of our student-athletes]. Sometimes as an athletic director, student-athletes – even female student-athletes – may perceive me to be unapproachable. I don’t want that to be the case, I want them to know they can come to me. But coach [Deputy A.D./Senior Woman Administrator] Mary Kay Hungate, who coached basketball here, has been great in this whole process for me and I think she has been great for them to be able to talk to. I think the coaches that are currently on this staff have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, both players and coaches. I know that Coach DeMoss, when she gets back, is working on putting together for Sunday. It is just an event to get them together, off-campus. That is part of this process. Also is letting them know that there is a counseling center on campus. That is not to say people need counseling but they might need to talk somebody and they may not want to talk to me. They may want to talk to somebody. We have given them that opportunity and information, in case they are more interested in talking to these people or that person then it is available, 24/7. This is a good group of student-athletes and they deserve the best. We expect the best of the Lady Techsters and they deserve the best. We intend to provide that for them.”
On how this affects the image of Louisiana Tech:
“Obviously, I cannot control that. The situation has happened. Coach Summitt has resigned. We have accepted that. Now we have to move forward. What else can I say? Even in the past when I have let a coach go, those are not easy decisions. When a person leaves a position in any capacity, they are like a tree that has been uprooted. It does not matter how you left. You leave a hole and that hole can only be filled through time. We have to get a leader in here to help with that process.”
On characteristics being looked for in the next head coach:
“As I said earlier, I have not gotten into hiring mode yet. Where it has most recently been with men’s basketball where we had six points that we wanted, I have not had a chance to sit down. I need an opportunity, me personally, to be able to collect my own thoughts and evaluate some things as we move forward and, quite frankly, focus on our student-athletes right now and give them the support that they need. I think with the situation that has happened with an abrupt resignation, maybe requires a different mindset. I have not had a chance to really dive in on that. If I sat down today and decided what I wanted in a leader, it might be different than what I might decide on Monday because it is an emotional process. I do not want to be driven by emotions or overact to a circumstance or situation.”
On the response from the community:
“It has been very supportive. Ruston is a very unique place and Louisiana Tech is a family. We talk about it all the time. I have been inspired by the people in this community and the people that are connected to this community. This is not fun for anybody and I think most people realize that. For me being a person that is an outsider, having moved here and not being born in Ruston, I sure felt loved and encouraged. The response has been very supportive.”