Could Summitt recruit males?

Now that second-year coach Bruce Pearl has given the men's basketball program at the University of Tennessee some stability, questions about Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt assuming the Vol reins have been shelved.

Although that question has disappeared, another remains: Could Pat Summitt – or any female coach for that matter – recruit enough quality male players to field a top-notch program?

I recently posed this question to Judy Jackson, who is superbly qualified to answer. Her official title at UT is associate director of student-athlete welfare but she works closely with on-campus football recruiting. Moreover, she has done considerable on-the-road recruiting of male athletes, usually working in tandem with head coach Phillip Fulmer.

Jackson was pressed into service as an off-campus recruiter for the first time in 1998, right after Vol recruiting ace Rodney Garner bolted for the University of Georgia staff. Jackson did a terrific job, helping Tennessee land a top-five class.

Doesn't that prove that a female coach can recruit male athletes?

At first, Jackson tried to dodge the question.

"I don't know if I can respond to that with any kind of credibility," she said, "because I was always a complement; I was never THE recruiter."

After a moment's pause, however, Jackson offered a much more insightful response:

"I don't know how guys would respond to a female head coach but it might work because many times the recruiting coach is the one who does all the running around and the head coach only makes the one visit. In that way, a woman coach with male assistants might be very successful."


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