Pat Summitt Steps Down as Tenn. Basketball Coach, Expresses Faith in God's Plan

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By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
April 19, 2012|5:17 pm

Women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, due to her Alzheimer's diagnosis, passed on her leadership title at the University of Tennessee to good friend Holly Warlick during a press conference Thursday.

Summitt, who led Tennessee's female basketball team, the Lady Vols, for 38 years, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease last summer. She turns 60 in June.

At Thursday's press conference, Summitt expressed her continued faith in God's plan.

"Yesterday illustrated to me how the Good Lord has a plan for my life. Wasn't it interesting as I stepped aside as head coach, my son Tyler stepped into a game as an assistant with Marquette women's basketball? I can tell you I'm so proud of Tyler," Summitt told those attending the conference as her son sat beside her.

Summitt, with 1,098 victories, has won more games than any other college basketball coach, male or female, in history.

The humble leader expressed her gratitude toward the players she has worked with over the years.

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"It has been a privilege to make and impact on the lives of 161 women who have worn the orange," Summitt told reporters at the press conference.

"I'm so proud of them, the Lady Vol student-athletes. It's an honor to see them graduate and become successful young women. Together, with these young women, a great staff and a supportive administration, we will have taken a magnificent journey," she added.

Summitt will now serve as Head Coach Emeritus at the university, while her good friend and assistant coach for 27 years, Holly Warlick, will serve as head coach for the university's women's basketball team.

The press conference ended with Summitt handing over her official coaching whistle to Warlick.

"[Summitt] has been a coach, a mentor and a great friend. To have the opportunity to work under Pat Summitt for 27 years is the most incredible thing I can say," Warlick told reporters as she held the coaching whistle, as reported by CNN.

It was also announced Thursday that Summitt will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.

In a White House statement released Thursday, Obama said he plans to award the medal to Summitt due to her contribution to women's athletics and her willingness "to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's disease."

When USA Today questioned Summitt about the honor, she replied "didn't see it coming. It's a tremendous honor that I appreciate very much."

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