Summitt steps down, named coach emeritus for Lady Vols

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 2:50pm
Staff reports

Pat Summitt has been named the University of Tennessee’s head coach emeritus, the university announced Wednesday.

The move officially ends her tenure as women’s basketball coach, a post she held for 38 years, but allows her to remain involved with program and the entire athletics department.

Holly Warlick, a three-time All-American for the Lady Vols and an assistant coach for the past 27 seasons, was promoted to head coach. Warlick assumed a much higher profile this season in terms of media responsibilities and in-game activities after Summitt announced last year that she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

"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 a statement released by the school. "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.”

Summitt is the all-time leader in college basketball wins — men’s or women’s — with a career record of 1,098-208. Her teams won eight national championships over three different decades, the most recent in 2008. She was named national coach of the year seven times.

The Lady Vols went 27-9 and won the SEC tournament.

"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," Dave Hart, UT’s director of athletics, said. "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.”

In her new role, Summitt will report to Hart but also will serve as a resource to the women’s basketball program and coaches with on-campus recruiting, life skills and such.

"Holly Warlick has earned the opportunity to be the head women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee and to lead the Lady Vol program she has embraced as a player and a coach,” Hart said, “I watched Holly grow tremendously as a coach throughout this past season. Under unique circumstances, the job she did away from the glare of the lights and crowds was as impressive as the job she did during game action.

“At this time in our historic program, which Pat Summitt built from scratch, Holly Warlick, the former player and longtime assistant coach, is deserving of the head coaching position. Her mentor will be available for insight and advice, but this is Holly's team now."

3 Comments on this post:

By: yogiman on 4/18/12 at 3:39

Congratulations on a job well done, Coach. We hate to see you go. I hope you have as many years enjoying your life as you have in your coaching career.

By: Rasputin72 on 4/18/12 at 4:48

This was job performance at its finest.

By: LizzyD on 4/19/12 at 11:44

Hope somebody in Nashville does a really good television special about Pat, her Cheatham Co. roots, her career as a student at UT Martin and then coach at UTK. The Lady Vols have ALWAYS been a source of pride for Tennessee, even when other things are embarrassing. Pat has always cared, big-time, for the WIN, but never more than for the welfare of the individual students who made up her teams. A tough task master and a loving sister/mom figure at the same time. A person of great integrity and now with a battle to wage against which winning seems unlikely -- but with Pat, you just never know. She turns struggles into Wins. We all wish her the best and hope to see her around our UT and Knoxville community for a very long time.

P.S. I NEVER buy T-shirts with stuff advertised on them -- but I did buy a "WE BACK PAT" shirt in honor of this great lady and sportswoman. (Never say "never," I guess : )