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Pat Summitt Steps Down at Tennessee

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

After 38 seasons as head coach, Pat Summitt will step aside and become “head coach emeritus” at Tennessee.

Pat Summitt Steps Down at Tennessee

In this article…

When Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt revealed that she was in the early stages of Alzheimer's  last August, I thought that meant the end of her long and industrious coaching career.  I'm happy that I was wrong and that Summitt was able to coach the team this season, although in a more limited role than in most seasons.  Unfortunately, the University of Tennessee announced that Summitt would no longer be the head coach.  Via CBS Sports:

Pat Summitt is stepping aside as Tennessee's women's basketball coach and taking the title of "head coach emeritus" with long-time assistant Holly Warlick being promoted to replace the sport's winningest coach.

Tennessee released a statement Wednesday announcing the move.

The 59-year-old Summitt will report to the athletic director and help the women's program she guided to eight national titles. She says she supports Warlick, her assistant for 27 years and a three-time All-American playing for Summitt, as her replacement and wants to ensure the stability of the program.

The move comes less than a year after her diagnosis with early onset dementia-Alzheimer's type.

"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," said Summitt.

"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. [...]

Summitt's career ends with a 1,098-208 record, 16 regular-season Southeastern Conference championships and 16 SEC tournament titles. She also led the 1984 Olympic team to a gold medal.

During her time, Tennessee never failed to reach the NCAA tournament, never received a seed lower than No. 5 and reached 18 Final Fours.

Her impact reaches beyond wins and losses. Every Lady Vol player who has completed her eligibility at Tennessee has graduated, and 74 former players, assistants, graduate assistants, team managers and directors of basketball operations are currently among the coaching ranks at every level of basketball.

I grew up around women's basketball, and Summitt was always the gold standard when it came to coaching in the game.  Her accomplishments speak for themselves, and the fact that she was able to maintain such a high level of success so consistently is staggering.  Will anyone be able to top the numbers that she's put up?  Probably not.  

The thing that stood out for me about Summitt was her intensity.  She had that trademark icy stare and all, but she put everything she had year after year into her team.  After 38 years, that's not easy to keep doing.  Then to continue doing that during such a difficult time in her life and to deal with the adversity so well is remarkable.  Summitt's strength and dedication are admirable, and it's a shame that she won't be patrolling the sidelines and striking fear in the hearts of referees next year.

I'm sure that Summitt will continue to do great things for not only the University of Tennessee women's basketball program but with Alzheimer's awareness as well.  Good luck and good health, Pat.

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