Abby Conklin runs a signage company in San Francisco. She has painted a wall in her office orange and blue, the colors she wore as a Tennessee women’s basketball player from 1993-97.
She wonders whether the paint job is too retro — or worse.
“I don’t think they respect the tradition that’s been built there,” said Conklin, referring to the current UT athletic department administration. “The Lady Vol tradition is different than the men’s tradition.”
You can dispute the merit of Conklin’s viewpoint, just as you can argue the circumstances surrounding the sudden, surprising retirement of longtime Lady Vols athletic director Jenny Moshak over equality issues. But there’s no debating the sense of bewilderment expressed by Conklin and three other former Lady Vols in the wake of Moshak’s announcement. Conklin, Cait McMahan, Chamique Holdsclaw and Candace Parker all used the word “sad” while sorting through their reactions.
“It’s sad; I’m hurt,” Parker said. “I have so much respect for the University of Tennessee. I realize changes are going to happen. At the same time, you can’t forget where you came from.”
Parker went on to say: “I’m not bashing the program. I don’t know what’s going on. But when things like this keep happening, it’s not an accident.”
Likewise, it’s no coincidence there was a distinct echo in these players’ comments. It’s one thing from them to be disillusioned. It’s another matter, though, if the feelings evolve into a sense of disconnect with UT. That’s the worst.