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Summitt to Step Down as Lady Vols Basketball Coach

Alzheimer’s sucks.

Eight months after disclosing her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Pat Summitt was poised Wednesday to announce that she will step aside as the Tennessee women’s basketball coach, making way for longtime assistant Holly Warlick take over the Lady Vols.

The university will make the news official via a press release Wednesday afternoon after Summitt meets with her players in Knoxville, Tenn., to inform them in private. A news conference is expected to follow Thursday.

Summitt, who has won more college basketball game than any man or woman in the sport (1,098), is not retiring but will remain part of Tennessee’s staff, assuming the title “head coach emeritus,” which will give her latitude and flexibility to do as much mentoring with players as her health allows.

But her role will be circumscribed by NCAA rules, which will permit her to watch practice, collaborate on game plans and continue as a motivator, disciplinarian and mentor but will preclude her from actively coaching. Rather than sit on the bench during games, she’ll sit directly behind the Volunteers’ staff, able to consult with Warlick and, no doubt, telegraph her impressions of what’s unfolding on court through her famously piercing glare.

The development brings a measure of stability to an inherently fluid and unknowable situation, with neither Summitt nor her doctors able to predict the course of the disease.

Warlick has been with the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball program for 27 years, all of them with Summitt.  She has also been a part of every national championship winning team Summitt has had.

It’s expected news, but it definitely marks the end of an era; one which may never be matched by another woman…or man.

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