Tennessee Volunteers fans, and those of us with no particular ties to Vols athletics, were crushed Tuesday to learn longtime Lady Vols coaching great Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. Summitt, of course, has chosen to face the disease in truly Summitt fashion, announcing she intends to keep coaching for the 2011-12 season.
In a video statement provided to GoVolsXtra, she described the basics of her situation and what it means for the university:
A transcript of Summitt's statement:
Throughout my career, I have always made it a point that my life and our basketball program were an open book. With that in mind, I have something to share with my Tennessee family, the university, boosters and fans of Lady Vols 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, Minnesota.
Earlier this year, the doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed me with an early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, at the age of 59.
I plan to continue to be your coach. For that reason, I will be relying on my outstanding coaching staff like never before. We've always collaborated on every facet of Lady Vols basketball, and now you will see Holly Warlick, Mickie DeMoss and Dean Lockwood taking on more responsibility as their duties are changing 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 I've shared my health concerns with you, and now we'll move forward with the business at hand: coaching the Lady Vols. For the time being, I hope you'll respect my privacy regarding this matter.
For the Tennessee reaction and analysis, check out Rocky Top Talk.