Tennessee coach Pat Summitt "disappointed'' by Lane Kiffin's departure
The stunning sudden departure of Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin has left a pall over the campus and Knoxville community, but the Vols have to rise up quickly and move on, legendary UT women's basketball coach Pat Summitt said Wednesday.
Kiffin resigned Tuesday after just one season to take the head coaching job at Southern Cal, where he was once an assistant coach.
Summitt and the No. 4 Tennessee Lady Vols will be in Gainesville Thursday for a 7 p.m. game against the Gators. On her Wednesday teleconference, Summitt said she has no ill-will toward Kiffin, but acknowledged his departure has devastated his players and disappointed other coaches and staff.
"Obviously we're all very disappointed with the decision he made to leave after one year,'' Summitt said. "It's been hard for all of us because I got to know coach Kiffin really well and I think he's a heck of a coach. We're just all very disappointed with the sudden departure. I never want to wish anything bad for anyone. He's going back home and so, are we happy about it? No. But it is what it is and now we've got to move on and find us a great head coach and put together a great staff. And I believe (AD) Mike Hamilton and his team will do exactly that.''
Summitt, who has been the women's basketball head coach at Tennessee for 36 years, said she feels for the Vols' players who dedicated themselves to Kiffin."It's unfortunate when players choose to go to a certain school and then the coach leaves,'' she said. "I can only imagine how devastated our guys were when they heard the news because I think they really respect coach Kiffin and his staff. And it's a tough blow. It takes awhile to get past that. Right now, people on our campus are not real happy, and rightfully so. But I have all the confidence that we will put together a great coaching staff and we'll recover from this, hopefully sooner rather than later.''