On Thursday, five years after Tyler Summitt resigned in disgrace as head coach of the women’s basketball team at Louisiana Tech, he will be with the woman at the center of the scandal that brought him down.
Summitt was having an extramarital affair with the team’s starting point guard, Brooklyn Pumroy. Now they are married and live with their 2-year-old son, Breck, on the banks of Choctaw Lake in London, Ohio.
“I think we really just try to keep praying for forgiveness,” Summitt told USA TODAY Sports. “We still feel the guilt.”
Summitt, 30, got divorced from his first wife after the scandal broke in 2016. It was public humiliation for the only child of Pat Summitt, arguably the greatest coach in women’s college basketball history.
At Tennessee, Pat Summitt won eight national championships, with Tyler Summitt attending most of those title games. He also helped oversee his mother’s medical care after she was diagnosed in 2011 early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which forced her to retire at 59.
She died about two months after Summitt resigned at Louisiana Tech.
“That year is just still a blur for me,’’ Summitt said. “I saw more than one therapist just to process what was going on, whether it was Louisiana Tech or Mom passing away.
“Even now I look back and there’s still emotions. So I don’t know if I’ve fully processed it.’’
He married Pumroy in 2018, the same year their son was born. Five years after his resignation, Summitt said, they will spend part of the evening as they have for the past few years.
“We do a Bible study,’’ he said. “We call it faith time.”
During faith time, Summitt said, the scandal that rocked Louisiana Tech basketball often is on the couple’s minds.
“I regret my actions and decisions, and I hate that I hurt so many people,’’ he said. “But I love Brooke. I love Breck. We love our lives.”
‘I don’t see coaching as a career’
They live in a four-bedroom, four-bathroom house Summitt bought for $380,000 in 2017. That year, with Summitt divorced from his first wife, the couple moved from Knoxville, Tennessee, where Summitt grew up, to the Ohio area where Pumroy’s family lives.
Unless it’s raining or the lake is frozen, Summitt said, most days they fish off their dock or ride on the 2007 MasterCraft boat his mother gave him.
But rain or shine, Summitt cannot be found on the sidelines.
Only 23 when he was hired at Louisiana Tech, the team went 16-15 in his first season after back-to-back losing seasons before his arrival. During his second season, the team was 12-9 (7-3 in Conference USA) before speculation about the affair mounted and the team lost seven of its last nine games.
He has not coached since his resignation and insists it’s by choice.
“I don’t see coaching as a career,’’ said Summitt, who was 30-31 at Louisiana Tech. “I used to. It used to be all I wanted to do, to be a coach for as long as I could. Not anymore.”
But the scandal has had an impact.
In 2019, his wife was hired as the head coach at Fairborn High School, her alma mater, near the couple’s home in Ohio. In a press release, she was quoted as saying Summitt would be one of her assistant coaches.
Backlash followed, and Summitt never applied with the Fairborn City Board of Education for the coaching job.
“The high school got sorely criticized for even mentioning his name in association with a girls high school team,’’ said Summitt’s father, R.B. Summitt
Tyler Summitt does not need basketball to pay the bills.
Before his mother died, she designated him as the beneficiary of her state pension that will pay him more than $173,000 every year for the rest of his life, Tyler Summitt confirmed.
Without a full-time job, Summitt said he devotes most of his time to his wife and son, helps with The Pat Summitt Foundation and other efforts to fight Alzheimer’s disease and has explored entrepreneurial opportunities in technology.
“A lot of my days is just having one-on-one time with Brooke or one-on-one time with Breck or all three of us and our two dogs,’’ he said. “That’s a lot of it, to be family first, which was a big swing from college coaching. Not saying all colleges coaches are workaholics or anything, that they’re not family first. But the balance is a struggle.
“Not coaching, and having Breck especially, I think opened my eyes to how much time coaching takes up. Every time my mind goes to coaching, Breck comes up and says, ‘Daddy, Daddy,’ And that’s it. It (the thought of coaching again) goes away.
Instead of trying to replicate the success of his mother, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, Tyler Summitt helps his wife by washing jerseys or ordering meals for the girls team at Fairborn High.
“I literally pitch in however she wants help,’’ he said. “I don’t see coaching as a career. I used to. It used to be all I wanted to do, was to be a coach for as long as I could. Not anymore.”
Brooklyn declined to be interviewed for this story.
“It’s difficult for her to talk about the past,” Summitt said.
‘People were trying to fight each other’
They met in 2012 at Marquette, where Summitt was a first-year assistant coach and Pumroy was a freshman guard. Two years, later Summitt got the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech, and Pumroy transferred there along with guard Ashley Santos.
At the time of Summitt’s resignation, rumors spread that he had impregnated one of his players and speculation focused on Pumroy and Santos. In response, Santos then posted online a photo of herself exposing her bare midriff and clearly not pregnant.
Eventually it became clear that Pumroy was Summitt’s mistress. During an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Summitt denied the rumors that Pumroy had been pregnant at the time.
“People thought that we had a kid back in 2016. No, totally false,’’ he said. “People thought Brooke and I had a relationship at Marquette. Totally false. People thought there were other players (sexually involved with Summitt.) No, totally false.’’
The affair started shortly before the 2015-16 season, according Summitt, who said the season remains “a blur’’ and offered no details. But specifics from the season still stick with some of the players.
Rochelle Vasquez, then a junior guard who was Pumroy’s roommate, said then-athletic director Tommy McClelland was among a handful of school officials who jointly asked her about the rumored affair in October, before the season started.
McClelland, who now works at Vanderbilt, declined to comment through a school official. Louisiana Tech did not respond to a request for comment.
Brandi Wingate, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder that season, and Vasquez said Pumroy acknowledged to them during the season she was having an affair with Summitt and they did not share the information with teammates.
But as rumors swirled later in the season, Vasquez and Wingate said Summitt’s perceived favoritism for Pumroy divided the team.
“People were trying to fight each other,’’ Wingate said. “People were jumping into each other’s faces.”
The chaos of the season drove Summitt into therapy, he said.
He said he eventually learned that he had been spending his life trying to live up to expectations as the son of a famous basketball coach and successful banking executive. This impacted Summitt’s decision to marry his high school sweetheart, Anne “AnDe” Ragsdale, at the age of 22, he said.
“I didn’t know what I wanted,’’ Summitt said. “I was just trying to do what I thought I was supposed to do.’’
Ragsdale, who has remarried, did not respond to a request for comment.
When Wingate learned Summitt said he’s still praying for forgiveness, she said she believes it.
“He always spoke about God,’’ she said.
But Summitt knows mention of his faith will open him to criticism.
Before his affair became public, Summit was outspoken about his faith and sent out emails that quoted Scripture.
Then in 2016, it turned out he had broken one of the “10 Commandments:” Thou shalt not commit adultery.
“He got pretty well crucified,’’ Summitt’s father said.
With the critics pouncing, Tyler Summitt said, he shut down his social media accounts shortly after he resigned at Louisiana Tech. He did not reactivate them for more than three years.
Primarily, Summitt said, he rejoined social media to share photos of his son.
“And maybe he’ll pull me back into coaching,’’ Summitt said of Breck. “Five-year-old boys basketball may be my calling in a few years.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tyler Summitt, son of legendary coach, tries to move on from scandal
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