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. Shanaynay

    I quit playing basketball because all the other girls kept hitting on me. Not every ladies basketball player is a lesbian. Well, at least I wasn't.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJay

      One, what does this have to do with that article about Coach Summitt? You being straight or gay has NOTHING to do with her disease and her stepping aside. Two, if you did quit simply because they were hitting on you, then you never had a real passion for the game in the first place.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammie

      This isn't the therapy board, Shanay

      April 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarineCWO24Xwarveteran

      Your grammar is terrible. Maybe the young ladies were trying to inform you that, you were great at sports but needed to sharpen your grammar and english skills. I mean do you actually talk like that in real life or are you suffering from Carpi tunnel syndrome and that's what caused you make so many errors in your post?

      April 19, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Really?

    CNN, could you *please* replace this headline? Coach Summitt wasn't "replaced," and it's appalling to say so.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laneqwa

      It's ok. Even if she reads this she will forget it.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Harry T

    I started graduate school at UT in 1974 the same year Pat started coaching. Some friends dragged me over to a game and I was shocked that maybe 1,000 people were there to watch girls play! I followed the UT womens' team for years and then surprise of surprises, they came up here to CT to play my alma mater UConn with both teams undefeated. UConn won that game and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I mean back then who would have ever thought UConn would beat UT. It was a great rivalry for awhile, but Pat decided to end it. I still can't figure that out. I hope that Geno and Pat can bury their differences and perhaps the schools can play a national tv game annually to benefit the Alzheimers Foundation. Pat is truly a living legend and she will be missed prowling that UT sideline with her UT Orange pant suits. Best wishes to Pat in her future battle with this terrible disease.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    I wish her the very best.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Johnny V

    Did she have a husband and children or was she one of those "athletic ladies" that grow leg hair and don't shave their pits?

    April 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      She has a son....never heard about a husband for whatever difference it makes.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©

      What possible difference does it make?
      Do you infer that every male coach is gay because he coaches an all-male team?

      April 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dorothy Stickley

      Pat Summitt has a son Tyler who is just as classy as his mother. Tyler is due to graduate with honors from UTK is semester if he hasn't already. She was on a recuiting trip when she went into labor. She refused to allow the pilot to land the UTK plane because she was determined Tyler would be born in Tennessee. She is divorced from Tyler's dad and has never, ever said one bad word about him although he was seen running around Knoxville with the woman who is now his wife well before he and Pat separated and divorced. Tyler has been at games with his mom and helped cut down nets at a couple of national championships. Pat grew up in a very close knit family and has had the care of her mom for several years. Her home has always been open to her players for big family dinners that she cooks. I hear her fired chicken is absolutely delicious!

      April 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tudor

      Ask her son Tyler. Summitt is divorced from husband RB.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammie

      No Johnny that was your mom

      April 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patrick

    May God be with you Pat, on this next stage of your life.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Terry

    Pat Summitt is one hellava great coach and an even greater woman. Every young woman who had a chance to either meet Pat, or compete against her teams is all the better for it.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sheralynn

    Sad news from Knoxville, TN! A legend and a leader! She will be truly missed, but she will always be with us at every game that is played at the Summitt and every basketball court around the nation. Pat Summitt made Women's Basketball what it is today. I have admired her since I was a kid. I am excited to see Holly Warlick take over. Thank you Pat for the memories, you are admired and loved by many.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sheralynn

    Her new role will keep the best players and student athletes coming to UT for years to come. I am sure the 2012-2013 season will be dedicated to Pat. Let's bring home a championship for her.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Those girls scare me. Big huge testosterone laden giants.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy¬©


      April 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff T

    What a class act. Very gracious in stepping down. Here's wishing the best for her as she battles her disease. Laneqwa your comment was truly tasteless and crude.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Deborah

    Correction: Pat Summit is not the winningest coach of NCAA women's basketball – she is the winningest coach of NCAA basketball! Her record is 1,098-208. Far more than any coach of men's basketball.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dorothy Stickley

    Pat Summitt's record at the University of Tennessee is 1098-207. She has won sixteen SEC conference championships and sixteen SEC tourney championships. Her teams have never failed to reach the NCAA tourney. They played in eighteen Final Fours and won eight national championships. All of that was done with class and great dignity. Everyone of Pat's players who finished her playing eligibility at UTK graduated. In all levels of basketball today seventy-four of Pat's players are Directors of Basketball, coaches, assistant coaches, graduate asistants, team managers, etc. That legacy alone is worth great acclaim. As for those of you who think it is funny to make comments about forgetting, may you never have a loved one who has Alzheimer's. And, the reasons Pat Summitt discontinued the UConn/UTK are rooted in a recuiting situation where some rather vicious and ugly things were said about Pat personally and about the program. The NCAA did investigate and warned but really did not do anything to the person who was responsible. And, very typically, Pat has chosen to never discuss the situation publicly. Again, she is the class act of coaches.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Aroough

    Best wishes to her and her family. A great coach and mentor for many. I wish her well.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patti

    CNN – Pat Summitt was NOT replaced – no one could ever replace her, poor choice of words. It is truly a sad day here in Knoxville, TN – she is a true icon – the best. Thank you Pat for all you have given to us here at UT, you are loved.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
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