Pat Summitt Steps Down

The legendary coach steps down due to health reasons.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Pat Summitt has officially stepped down as head coach of the women's basketball program at Tennessee.

Taking the title of "head coach emeritus," Summitt passes on the reigns to longtime assistant Holly Warlick who will lead the Lady Vols from this point forward.

Tennessee released a statement on Wednesday morning announcing the change.

Summitt, who is only 59, steps down after being diagnosed just less than a year ago with early onset dementia-Alzheimer's type. The Hall-of-Fame coach revealed her diagnosis on August 23, after a few months of trying to come to grips with her condition; a problem that had caused her mental fits both on and off the court the previous season.

Although Warlick and the rest of the coaching staff handled a majority of the in-game coaching and off-court recruiting alike, Wednesday marks the official end of the Summitt coaching era in Knoxville.

While at her own pace, Summitt will still report to the athletic director and help the women's team to the best of her ability. The coach not only supports Warlick, who has assisted her for 27 years and was a three-time All-American while playing under her, but also is confident in the stability of the program in her hands; a program Summitt herself guided to eight national championships.

"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," said Summitt.

"I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward. 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."

"I'm very thankful for all Pat Summitt has done to prepare me for this opportunity," Warlick said. "She is my coach, mentor, and great friend, and I am honored with the opportunity to continue and add to the great tradition of this program."

Summitt's legendary career ends with a record of 1,098-207,  16 regular season SEC championships and 16 SEC tournament titles.

During the coach's tenure, Tennessee never failed to reach the NCAA tournament, never received lower than a No. 5 seed and reached the Final Four 18 times.

Photo Credit: Darrell Walker/UTHM/Icon SMI

Josh Helmuth is the sports editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at