Thursday, April 19 2012 12:40 AM EDT2012-04-19 04:40:39 GMT
Pat Summitt is not going very far, but the fact that she's going anywhere other than the Tennessee women's basketball sidelines is still seen as a significant blow to women's basketball and all of women's athletics.More >>
KNOXVILLE (WRCB) – The University of Tennessee has announced that Pat Summitt has stepped down as head coach.
Summitt has been the head coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball program for 38 years and has the most wins of any coach in NCAA history.
Summitt will remain with the university in the position of Head Coach Emeritus.
The University of Tennessee Athletics Department says assistant head coach Holly Warlick will assume the role of head coach.
Last year, Summitt announced that she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.
"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 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."
The all-time wins leader among college basketball coaches, Summitt finishes her 38-season career at Tennessee with a 1,098-208 record. The Lady Vols won an unparalleled eight national championships under her leadership (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, and 2008) and advanced to 18 Final Four's.
Tennessee won the SEC Championship and SEC Tournament title 16 times each, and Summitt was named SEC Coach of the Year eight times and NCAA Coach of the Year in seven seasons.
Her sixth national championship team, the 1997-98 team, finished a perfect 39-0.
"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," UT athletics director Dave Hart said in a statement. "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.
Hart said Warlick "has earned the opportunity" to take over the program, especially considering the work she did this past season under what Hart described as "unique circumstances."
The former Lady Vol point guard has been an assistant on Summitt's staff for the past 27 seasons, and assumed many of the head coaching responsibilities as the associate head coach after Summitt's diagnosis.
"I'm very thankful for all Pat Summitt has done to prepare me for this opportunity," said Warlick. "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. I'd like to thank Dave Hart, Chancellor Cheek, and the University for having confidence in me to lead the Lady Vol program, and we will work as hard as we possibly can with the goal of hanging more banners in Thompson-Boling Arena."
As the Head Coach Emeritus, Summitt will be responsible for coordinating with the Director of Athletics, and serve as an advisor to the team, university and the Southeastern Conference on issues related to women's basketball. The university says she will continue to serve as a mentor to the coaching staff and players.
"If anyone asks, you can find me observing practice or in my office," Summitt said of her new role. "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."
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