"I plan to continue to be your coach," Summitt said. The Knoxville News Sentinel and Washington Post first reported Summitt's condition. The coach did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Tennessee athletics director Joan Cronan told the AP that Summitt first thought her symptoms were side effects from medicine she was taking to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Summitt met with the Lady Volunteers on Tuesday to discuss her diagnosis with them. Both UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Cronan pledged their support of Summitt's decision to continue coaching.
"Pat Summitt is our head coach and she will continue to be," Cronan said. As college basketball's winningest coach, Summitt has spent 37 seasons at Tennessee and has 1,071 career victories and eight national championships. Summitt said she met with local doctors after becoming concerned about her health, and those physicians recommended she undergo a more extensive evaluation. Summitt told the News Sentinel that her maternal grandmother had suffered from severe dementia.
"Pat came to us with concerns about her health and our preliminary evaluation was suggestive of dementia. Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement he was shocked and saddened to hear the news of Summitt's diagnosis.
Here's the problem with disease.
"It doesn't discriminate," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said on Tuesday.
Because if it did, dementia would not have picked Pat Summitt. Instead we end up with Tuesday's shocking news that Summitt has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. An Olympic athlete."
An Olympic coach. A transcendent figure in women's sports.
When you think of Summitt, you think of strength. I always swore that if Summitt ran for office she could easily be elected the first woman president. Summitt's grandmother had the disease as well. Summitt is not planning on retiring. Summitt has the full support of the Tennessee administration.
At a school where men's football and basketball has suffered turmoil, Summitt remains a bastion of excellence and integrity. Summitt is focusing on the present, the future.