Legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. In a statement from Summitt released by the University of Tennessee on Tuesday, the Hall-of-Famer says she plans to coach the Lady Vols during the 2011-12 season, but may have some “limitations.”
“I plan to continue to be your coach,” Summitt said in her statement “Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days.”
Summit went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in May, after the end of the 2010-11 basketball season ended and was diagnosed with the condition over the summer.
The Knoxville News Sentinel first reported Summitt’s condition. 59-year-old Summitt told the newspaper she plans to rely on medication and mental exercises to manage the progressive condition.
She planned to meet with the Lady Volunteers on Tuesday afternoon to inform them of the diagnosis. Summitt has coached 37 seasons at Tennessee and has 1,071 career victories and eight national championships.
Both UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Athletics Director Joan 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. “She is an icon not only for women’s basketball but for all of women’s athletics. For Pat to stand up and share her health news is just a continuing example of her courage. Life is an unknown, and none of us have a crystal ball. But, I do have a record of knowing what Pat Summitt stands for: excellence, strength, honesty and courage.”