Less than a year after announcing to the basketball world that she has an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease, Pat Summitt, 59, has stepped down as Tennessee’s women’s basketball coach. This marks the end of a 38 year career that put Tennessee women’s basketball on the map. Summitt’s longtime assistant for 27 years, Holly Warlick, who also played for her, will take over as head coach.
In a statement Summitt 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. I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward. 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.”
Pat Summitt concludes her career with a win-loss record of 1,098-208 (NCAA record). Summitt is a seven-time SEC Coach of the year and a seven-time NCAA Coach of the year, with eight national championships (NCAA women’s record), 18 Final Fours, 16 conference titles and 16 conference tournaments. Summitt’s Lady Vols have made an appearance in every NCAA Tournament, as well as every Sweet 16, except for 2009. She by far is the sole architect in making the Lady Volunteers a force in women’s basketball. In 38 years as a coach, she never had a losing season. Summitt also guided the 1984 Olympic women’s team to a gold medal. Every one of her players who completed their eligibility at Tennessee University graduated and 45 former players have become coaches. With that said, Holly Warlick has some enormous shoes to fill.
Summitt made the shocking announcement August 23, 2011 that she is fighting this incurable disease and the bulk of her coaching duties were passed along to her three assistants, Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss. With the stress of Summitt’s illness and the pressure to compete, the Lady Vols ended the 2011-2012 regular season with a 24-8 record, winning the Southeastern tournament. However, Tennessee would lose to Baylor in the Elite Eight game of the NCAA tournament.
With her legacy cemented, Summitt will forever be an iconic figure in the basketball world and her presence will surely be missed. For now health will be Summitt’s focal point as she fights this dreadful disease. Summitt has brought excitement and pleasure for many in the sports world. Here at TNP, we salute you. Get well Pat!
By Keith Madyun