After 38 seasons as head coach, 16 SEC titles and eight national championships, Pat Summitt stepped down as Tennessee’s women’s basketball coach.
Summitt became the head coach emeritus and longtime assistant Holly Warlick was named the Lady Volunteers’ head coach on April 18.
“I can tell you I have loved my work at the University of Tennessee,” Summitt said. “It’s been awesome. I can say for almost four decades, it has been a privilege to make and impact on the lives of 161 women who have worn the orange. I’m so proud of them, the Lady Vol student-athletes. It’s an honor to see them graduate and become successful young women.”
Summitt won 1,098 games, the most in NCAA men’s or women’s basketball history, during her UT career that began in 1974. Every player who completed her eligibility under Summitt graduated. She announced on Aug. 23, 2011 she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. During the 2011-12 season, her assistant coaches — Warlick, Mickie DeMoss and Dean Lockwood — took on a more active role with the team.
“I see Pat in the same role as what she did this (past) year,” Warlick said of the future. “She’s going to be a great mentor for these young women. She’s going to be there, she’s going to watch practice and be involved in on-campus recruiting, which is huge for us. She built this program — the tradition of the Lady Vols — and we’re going to use her in every way possible to help us continue that tradition.”
 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. Despite replacing her mentor and “the game’s greatest coach,” according to UT athletic director Dave Hart, Warlick is ready for the opportunity.
“It’s exciting to follow a legend,” Warlick said. “I’ve coached under a legend for 27 years. I love it. It’s a great challenge for me, and I can’t wait to get started.”
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.
“We have grown the game of women’s basketball each and every day along the way supported by the best fans in the country. No doubt,” Summitt said. “We have managed to win some ball games and hang championship banners in Thompson-Boling Arena. I made a choice early in my career to challenge myself to step up my game each and every day. You can be sure that I will take this same attitude into my new role as head coach emeritus and continue to teach our players the same commitment. I can promise you ladies, I’m here for you. Trust me, that will happen. The success of the Lady Vols will always, always continue.”
But her impact spreads across all women’s sports.
“Title IX would not be what it is because she lived it,” Joan Cronan, UT’s women’s athletic director since 1983, told The Daily Beacon. “Some people preach it, but she lived it. She made Title IX happen. To me, Title IX means equal opportunity, and yes, we had equal opportunity, but where in America do they have 16,000 people average coming to a women’s college basketball game? She made Title IX work.”
Hart summarized Tennessee fans’ feelings for the legendary and beloved coach.
“She is an icon who does not view herself in that light, and her legacy is well-defined and everlasting,” he said. “Just like there will never be another John Wooden, there will never be another Pat Summit.”