After 1,098 career victories, Pat Summitt has stepped down as head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols.
Summitt, who began her career at the helm of the Lady Vols program in 1974 turns over the reigns to her long-time assistant Holly Warlick. A former Tennessee point guard under Summitt, Warlick has been on the coaching staff for the past 27 seasons. She saw her coaching role grow exponentially last year after the news broke that Summitt had been diagnosed with early onset dementia. This move comes less than eight months after the initial diagnosis was revealed.
“I feel like Holly’s been doing the bulk of it,” Summitt said to Go Vols Xtra. “She deserves to be the head coach. I’m going to support her. No doubt, I’ll be there for her.”
Summitt is not leaving the program entirely, however, as Tennessee has created a new title and position for her – Coach Emeritus. An outline for her new role has been created, but of major importance will still be the ability to go to practices, talk to players and participate in recruiting.
“I feel really good about my decision,” Summitt said. “I think this is going to be a win-win situation for everybody. Holly and I will work really well together.”
Even though the writing was perhaps on the wall prior to this point, the announcement of this move has left many in the basketball world shocked and saddened to see the legend begin her exit from the game. Her presence on the sidelines will be sorely missed in Tennessee. Summitt made herself a station in the world not only of women’s basketball, but of amateur basketball as a whole. I wish her well in her new role with the team and in the struggles that are sure to come with her health.
“Pat is one of those rare individuals whose influence crosses all boundary lines. Literally thousands of coaches in a vast array of sports abide by her tenets, passing them on as gospel to their players. Her name is synonymous with the sport of women’s basketball, and yet I believe it is her leadership style–her way of achieving, if you will, that will be her most dominant legacy. “On a personal level, I feel unbelievably blessed to have had the opportunity to compete against her. I, and an entire generation of women’s basketball coaches, will always be indebted to her for the culture of excellence she helped to create in our sport. It is on the foundation of relevance that her success helped carve that we and others like us have built our programs.” – Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale
Very best to pat summitt….thank you for being a legend in every sense of the word. Congratulations to holly as well. Best from all at dwb – Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, on Twitter
The legend that paved the way for all of us. Thank you Coach Summitt, so glad I got to meet you in Denver. #respect – Clemson coach Jayme Callahan, on Twitter