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. apalled

    I am convinced this country has lost its last shred of decency. This wonderful woman has had a remarkable career and life as mother, coach and was a wife. But the crass remarks that came across this site apalling! Is sympathy something only confirmed on those close to us? Are parents teaching empathy, compassion and courtesy anymore? I'm sure this remarkable woman will soon be entering her long good-bye. I can only say good luck to Ms. Summit and her family.

    April 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. apalled that you're apalled

    First off, Pat Summitt was one of the greatest coaches ever. She could've coached the men; she was that good. Indeed there were several times throughout her career at UT where that almost happened.

    Second, how sensitive are you that some people making Lesbian jokes or alzheimer's jokes on the internet upsets you that much? I mean if this got to you, what happens when something actually, you know, happens to YOU. I find humor whether funny or failed to be a great equalizer in society for those who are sick of the uber-serious making everything a spectacle for this or that. I'm sure Pat has some haters like all greats do. But she never once made her career about any spectacle except for basketball and preparing students for life after it. It's called gallow's humor and many use it to cope with sad things. To me it is sad that Pat won't rmember what she did in a decade. The thing is, I doubt many will remember what she did in five years because they're too focused on expressing righteous indignation over soemthing that they probably may have even wnated to say. So who really needs our pity and prayers, Pat or the frothing idiots who let CNN dictate to them reality or even worse let CNN's trolls dictate it?

    April 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Kirk M. Bruce

    It is rather obvious that Pat Summit has been the driving force behind the popularity of women's basketball. However I believe she had an tremendous impact on the importance and development of women's sports as a whole. To me that is hard to say about anyone else in sports.

    April 19, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
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