It’s the end of an era.
Pat Summitt, the all-time leader in wins among NCAA basketball coaches, announced on Wednesday that she will be stepping down after 38 seasons with the University of Tennessee. While the news is surprising, it's also understandable given the legendary coach’s ongoing battle with Alzheimer's.
Over the course of her illustrious career, Summitt won 1,098 totals games and eight of the 13 National Championship battles her teams participated in. She has also won seven NCAA Coach of the Year Awards, with the first one coming in 1983 and the last in 2004.
Associate head coach, Holly Warlick, was named as Summitt’s successor.
"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."
There is no point in waxing poetic regarding Summitt’s place in basketball (not women’s basketball, basketball in general) lore because everyone else will do it in the coming days, but this fact definitely puts her impact on the sport in perspective: while she coached the team, Tennessee was the only school to appear in every NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament since its inception in 1982.
College basketball lost a giant today. Here’s to hoping that Summitt ends up getting the help and treatment she needs over the next few years.