Vols' Summitt diagnosed with dementia, will try to coach

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Lady Vol head coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, but it won;t keep her off the court.

In a message posted on utladyvols.com, Summit said she visited the Mayo Clinic to address some ongoing concerns after the season ended.

Summitt plans to continue coaching, adding that she recognizes there will be limitations and she "will be relying on my outstanding coaching staff like never before."

Summitt has spent the last 37 seasons coaching the Lady Vols and is the arguably the most successful coach in U.S. college basketball history -- male or female, pro or amateur -- with 1,071 career victories, eight national championships and an Olympic gold medal. She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Message from Pat Summit
(courtesy: UTLadyVols.com)

Dear All -

Throughout my career, I have always made it a point that my life and my basketball program were an open book.

With that in mind, I have something I'd like to share with my Tennessee families -- the university, boosters and fans of Lady Vol basketball.

Once last season concluded, I addressed some ongoing concerns regarding my health. After consulting with my local physicians, I decided to visit the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Earlier this summer, the doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed me with early onset dementia ("Alzheimer's Type") at the age of 59.

I plan to continue to be your coach. Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days.

For that reason, I will be relying on my outstanding coaching staff like never before. We have always collaborated on every facet of Lady Vol basketball; and now you will see Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss taking on more responsibility as their duties will change significantly.

I love being your coach and the privilege to go to work every day with our outstanding Lady Vol basketball student-athletes. I appreciate the complete support of UT Chancellor Dr. Jimmy Cheek and UT Athletics Director Joan Cronan to continue coaching at the University of Tennessee as long as the good Lord is willing.

I've been honest and shared my health concerns with you, and now we'll move forward to the business at hand... coaching a great group of Lady Vols. For the time being, I hope you will respect my privacy regarding this matter.

Thank you.

Go Lady Vols!

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  • by Amy Location: Dubai on Aug 24, 2011 at 03:19 PM
    May the grace of God help Coach Summitt. Globally she has many fans and supporters who wish her continued success and will be praying for her.
  • by Sue Location: Knoxville on Aug 23, 2011 at 11:34 PM
    The most important thing all of us can do for Coach Summitt is to pray for her complete healing. God is more than able to heal her mind as well as her body. In 2 Timothy the Word says that we have not been given a spirit of fear BUT OF A SOUND MIND! I believe this for Coach Summitt. Pat, you are a class act and are loved by many. Please know thatI will be praying for you.
  • by Millisa Location: Crossville TN on Aug 23, 2011 at 11:13 PM
    I love you Coach Summitt you are a fighter on and off the court you can do it You can beat this thing. You have my prayers Go Lady Vols!!! :) :) :)
  • by Cindy Location: Oak Ridge on Aug 23, 2011 at 11:12 PM
    Coach Summit, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We love you and God Bless you. You are the best!
  • by debbie on Aug 23, 2011 at 07:02 PM
    I have always admired Coach Summitt, she is what sports is all about. Her integrity, her love for the game and her love for the young ladies she has coached over the years.Iwish her the best &GOD BLESS
  • by jen Location: just outside kville on Aug 23, 2011 at 06:05 PM
    I've had the pleasure of watching the Lady Vols practice and seeing Pat work with the girls but I can tell you more than that from the pleasure I've had teaching Lady Vols at UT. I can't say pleasure about a lot of students or programs but Lady Vols are some of the best students despite having to miss class occasionally. That has always spoken volumes to me.
  • by Sandy Location: Crossville on Aug 23, 2011 at 06:03 PM
    I heard Pat ask that everyone respect her privacy and that's all I'v heard on every Knoxville channel, also the radio. PLEASE respect her privacy!!!!!!
  • by karen Location: Knoxville on Aug 23, 2011 at 04:13 PM
    Pat has a lot of great years ahead of her. Treatment, exercise, as well as, the early diagnosis can help her maintain a healthy productive life. Early diagnosis is definitely in her favor! Hopefully her story will give others the courage to seek answers to their questionable health.
    • reply
      by debbie on Aug 23, 2011 at 07:05 PM in reply to karen
      Anna Coach Summitt released the announcemet herself. Read all before you committ.
  • by wayne Location: lafollette Tennessee on Aug 23, 2011 at 03:50 PM
    We love you pat our thoughts and prayers are with you. Pat Summitt best Coach ever and a class act. God bless you pat. love you. lady vol fan.
  • by Anna on Aug 23, 2011 at 03:09 PM
    This is sad if its true. This shouldn't have been announced till UT confirmed it. Is there going to be an announcement about it on channel 8 news on TV today. I've been watching for on. Anna
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