Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in college basketball history, is stepping down as the University of Tennessee’s women’s coach, the school announced Wednesday.
Summitt, who was diagnosed less than a year ago with early-onset dementia-Alzheimer’s type, will take the title of “head coach emeritus.” She will be replaced by Holly Warlick, who has served as Summitt’s assistant for 27 seasons.
“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 said in the university’s statement. “I support Holly Warlick being named the next head coach, and 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.
“If anyone asks, you can find me observing practice or in my office. 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.”
Summitt has coached the Lady Vols for 38 seasons, leading the team to eight national championships, 18 Final Four appearances, 16 SEC titles (both regular season and tournament) and a record of 1,098-208. She was the SEC coach of the year eight times and NCAA coach of the year seven times.
“It is extremely difficult to adequately express what Pat Summitt has meant to the University of Tennessee, the sport of basketball, and the growth of women’s athletics nationally,” said the school’s vice chancellor and director of athletics, Dave Hart. “She is an icon who does not view herself in that light, and her legacy is well-defined and everlasting. Just like there will never be another John Wooden, there will never be another Pat Summitt. I look forward to continuing to work with her in her new role. She is an inspiration to everyone.”
Warlick was a three-time all-American as a Lady Vols player under Summitt. She has been on the coaching staff for all eight NCAA titles.
“I’m very thankful for all Pat Summitt has done to prepare me for this opportunity,” Warlick said. “She is my coach, mentor, and great friend, and I am honored with the opportunity to continue and add to the great tradition of this program.”
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