Pat Summitt steps down as Tennessee women's basketball coach
Summitt, seen here in 2011, announced she had early onset Alzheimer's disease last year.
April 18th, 2012
02:08 PM ET

Pat Summitt steps down as Tennessee women's basketball coach

[Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET] Eight months after revealing her diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's, the head coach of the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team announced she was stepping down Wednesday.

Summitt, who led the Lady Vols to eight national championships and whose 1,098 wins are the most in major-college basketball history, will now serve as "head coach emeritus," helping with on-campus recruiting, mentoring players and serving as a liaison between the coaching staff and the athletics director, Tennessee said.

"I've loved being the head coach at Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognize that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role," Summitt, 60, said in a statement released by Tennessee.

Holly Warlick, an assistant on the Tennessee staff for 27 seasons and a former Lady Vols player, has been named Summitt's successor.

"I support Holly Warlick being named the next head coach, and I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward," Summitt said. "I would like to emphasize that I fully intend to continue working as head coach emeritus, mentoring and teaching life skills to our players, and I will continue my active role as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund."

Tennessee has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon.

Summitt, who started coaching Tennessee in 1974, revealed her early-onset Alzheimer's diagnosis in August, more than two months before the 2011-12 basketball season began. Alzheimer’s causes significant memory and cognition problems; early-onset means the disease was found before age 65.

Before the season began, Summitt revealed her plan for continuing to coach with the disease: She said she scaled back some of her workload, was relying on her staff do do more tasks, was taking medication and was following a "gameplan" to keep her mind sharp.

The Lady Vols finished this season with a 27-9 record, advancing to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion Baylor.

"If anyone asks, you can find me observing practice or in my office," Summitt said. "Coaching is the great passion of my life, and the job to me has always been an opportunity to work with our student-athletes and help them discover what they want. I will continue to make them my passion. I love our players and my fellow coaches, and that's not going to change."

soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. snad264

    Tomorrow morning Pat Summit is going to wake up and say, "When did I retire?"

    April 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • volchick59

      That remark was completely unnecessary. You need to visit Knoxville and say that. But pack your lunch and eat your Wheaties first.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      Not funny

      April 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      LOL. – Good one snad :). I love people with oldtimers. They are a laff riot.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • showalittlerespect

      Ignorant comment for sure.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • jefy619

      hahaha

      April 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mlmitts

    I am proud to say that Pat Summit displayed extraordinary skills as one of the most respected winning coaches in UT History. I wish her well in her new endeavors GO LADY VOLS!!!

    April 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lem

    This is good news. Now maybe they will win one.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • becca6506

      ummm pretty sure they won 27 games this past season.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. joe t

    I'm no Tennessee fan, but I always thought Pat Summit was a great coach and a class act. Its truly sad she has to go out this way. I wish her all the best.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ps

    Pat Summit Rocks. We love you Coach Summit...

    April 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beavis

    Yeah. They should just make something up. She will just forget whatever they tell her anyways.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JD

    Pat Summitt is one of the finest people not just in women's college basketball, but in all of sports. I wish her all the best in her battle with Alzheimer's disease and in her new role at the University of Tennessee.

    snad264: There is nothing at all funny about Alzheimer's. Your attempt at humor is beyond pathetic.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff

    Girls basketball stinks. They focus on the fundamentals too much. Plus way too many lesbeen players.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • showalittlerespect

      ....and too many folks who can't spell or punctuate on this board. You're not sick, are you?

      April 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SidG

    Pat Summit represented her professsion well. She won and lost with dignity. In the past 15-20 years, the balttles with Auriema and UConn were great to watch She will be remembered as one of the bset baskeetball coaches to have ever roamed the sidelines.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dorothy Stickley

    This just breaks my heart. Coach Summitt is just the best person and such a class act. She has and always will be a wonderful role model. God bless, Miss Pat!

    April 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • bhenriques

      Thanks for taking the time to post on this site. I realize it is called SoundOff, but I would trust that people could be more civil in the information they post online. Thank you for your postings. Ms. Pat deserves all the support we can give her during this time. I assume you must follow her and the team given your knowledge and wanted to be sure that you know there are lots of people out here who support your hero and send positive energy her way. All the best to all of you!

      April 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Pete T184

    Univ of Tennessee shows a lot of class by pulling the rug out from under someone who has a disease. Would they fire someone for having a heart attack? Oh, wait....they did. (Johnny Majors). Well, there is a reason why Univ of Tennessee has been at the bottom of the SEC for 20 years.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Yeah. They are from the south. Probably spend their time chewing tobacco and banging their cousins. And eating grit.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dorothy Stickley

      Have you thought that perhaps coach Summitt requested this new role? She has so many things to do to handle her illness and to live her life the next few years and I know her well-she would ask this if she felt she was hurting the program in anyway. I agree that the way UT handled the Johnny Majors situation was less than classy, but this case is different. Pat Summitt lives for that basketball program. Now she needs a chance to live for herself. Just wish her well, please.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tnfangermany

    Terrible headline, CNN! Give the winningest NCAA basketball coach credit where it's due.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. OCCUPY WALL STREET 2016 for CONGRESS

    I sympathize with her disease, but let's get real.

    She coaches a sports team.

    Why are we placing such importance on her life as a sports coach? And then we wonder why society is so screwed up.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steve S.

    Just shows that there are some real idiots in the world. Do some people just have no feelings? Best wishes to Coach Summitt in her new role and all the best to her family.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gphill003

    What a crappy headline from CNN.......REPLACED? When you first read that headline and the start of the story on here, you would think she was forced out!! She stepped down by her CHOICE. Pat Summit is the class act of college basketball....MEN OR WOMEN!! Go Lady Vols!! WE BACK PAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
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