Pat Summitt steps down as Tennessee women's basketball coach

(CNN) - Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA women's basketball who announced last year she'd been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, will be replaced as University of Tennessee head women's basketball coach by a longtime assistant, the university announced Wednesday.

Summitt, who guided the Lady Vols to eight national championships and 1,098-208 record from 1974 to 2012, will now serve as "head coach emeritus," helping with on-campus recruiting, mentoring players and serving as a liaison between the coaching staff and the athletics director, Tennessee said.

"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 released by Tennessee.

Holly Warlick, an assistant on the Tennessee staff for 27 seasons and a former Lady Vols player, has been named Summitt's successor.

"I support Holly Warlick being named the next head coach, and I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward," Summitt said. "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."

Tennessee has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon.

Summitt revealed her early-onset Alzheimer's diagnosis in August, more than two months before the 2011-12 basketball season began. Alzheimer's causes significant memory and cognition problems; early-onset means the disease was found before age 65.

Before the season began, Summitt revealed her plan for continuing to coach with the disease: She said she scaled back some of her workload, was relying on her staff do more tasks, was taking medication and was following a "gameplan" to keep her mind sharp.

The Lady Vols finished this season with a 27-9 record, advancing to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion Baylor.


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