After 38 seasons as coach, 16 SEC titles and eight national championships, Pat Summitt is stepping down as Tennessee’s women’s basketball coach.
Summitt is now the head coach emeritus and longtime assistant Holly Warlick becomes the Lady Volunteers’ head coach.
“I’ve loved being the head coach at the Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognized that the time has come to move into the future and step into a new role,” Summitt said in a UT release. “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, mentioning 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.”
Summitt won 1,098 games, the most in NCAA basketball history, men or women’s, during her UT career that began in 1974. She announced on Aug. 23, 2011 she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzeheimer’s type. During the 2011-12 season, her assistants — Warlick, Mickie DeMoss and Dean Lockwood — took on a more active coaching role with the team.
“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 (UT athletic director) Dave Hart, (UTK) 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.”
Warlick was a three-time All-American point guard at Tennessee under Summitt during her playing career (1976-80). She was named associated head coach in 2003.
Tennessee is the only school to play in all 32 NCAA women’s tournaments. Summitt guided the Lady Vols to 18 trips to the Final Four, produced 12 Olympians and 21 All-Americans. She also coached the U.S. women’s basketball team to a gold metal in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
“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,” Hart 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.
“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. 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.”