After 38 seasons, the Pat Summitt era at Tennessee has come to an end.
Summitt, 59, announced Wednesday she was stepping down as head coach of the Vols less than a year after she announced she had been diagnosed with early on-set dementia. Longtime assistant Holly Warlick, who led the team after Summitt announced her condition in August, will be the new head coach.
Summitt will remain as head coach emeritus.
"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. "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."
In her 38 seasons, Summitt revolutionized women's basketball, made it more accessible and more attractive while creating a powerhouse at Tennessee. Under her tutelage, the Lady Vols won eight national championships (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008) and played in 13 national title games. The Lady Vols won the SEC title and the SEC tournament title 16 times each and Summitt was the SEC's Coach of the Year eight times and NCAA Coach of the Year seven times.
Tennessee is the only school to appear in all 31 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournaments since its inception in 1982, and the Lady Vols have had more NCAA tournament victories (112) and has played in more tournament games (135) than any other college basketball program. More importantly, every one of Summitt's players who completed their eligibility graduated.
Summitt ends her career with an amazing 1,098-208 record. Summitt is not a legend in women's basketball, she's a legend, period.
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The program is in good hands, though. Warlick has been Summitt's assistant for 27 seasons and was a three-time All-American with the Lady Vols. She'll continue the strong traditions Summitt set and keep Tennessee among the all-time greatest women's basketball programs in the country.
"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. I'd like to thank [athletic director] Dave Hart, Chancellor [Jimmy] 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."
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