In a shocking and unfortunate breaking news story, Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with dementia with an official announcement expected today, according to Gregg Doyel of cbssports.com.
The story suggests that many former Tennessee basketball players are en route to Knoxville to support their coach in her time of need. Summitt, just 59 years old, plans to try to continue coaching the 2011-12 season as she copes with her new medical condition.
Summitt is perhaps the most widely known and recognized coach in the college ranks, where she's amassed a 1,071-199 record, 16 SEC championships and eight national championships with the Lady Vols. She stands as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history, regardless of gender or division. Summitt is the only coach in NCAA history to reach the 1,000-win mark and her eight titles ranks second to only John Wooden's ten at UCLA.
Summitt is a 2000 inductee into the Naismith Hall of Fame and has fostered the growth of some of the biggest names in the sport of women's basketball. Some of her former players include Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Candace Parker. She has been at the helm of the Lady Vols program since 1974.
Video statement from Pat Summitt:
Tennessee has issued "A Message From Pat Summitt", including the video statement above as well as quotes from administrators at UT and her son, Tyler.
Times like these cause even heated rivals to extend words of encouragement. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma issued a statement on Summitt, as provided by the UConn athletic communications department.
"I was shocked and saddened to hear about the news regarding Pat Summitt's diagnosis. You don't necessarily associate dementia with people our age so this announcement really put things in perspective. Pat has great support from her family, friends and staff and I know they will help her immensely. There is no doubt in my mind that Pat will take on this challenge as she has all others during her Hall of Fame career - head on. I wish her all the best."
Fellow Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer issued a statement via the Stanford facebook page, as well.
"Hearing today's news about Pat Summit's diagnosis was numbing to me,"said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. "Pat is not only a great coach but she has been an outstanding mentor and friend. She has shown great courage in announcing this news. I know that she has the best support group around her that anyone could ask for, and I know that Pat will fight this development with the strength, spirit and determination that she has shown throughout her Hall of Fame career. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family."
Former Tennessee and current WNBA players started to tweet about the news this afternoon. Indiana's Shyra Ely said, "Thoughts, LOVE, n prayers go out to Coach Summitt n fam, & LV fam...we all know what a fighter she is...she'll continue to be the best!"
Chamique Holdsclaw tweeted, "My heart hurts for Coach Summitt and my TN family. I just cried and cried when I initially found out. She has been and (sic) important part of my life and will continue to be. God has the finally (sic) say." She went on later, "As good as I know God is I still can't stop crying. This has been a tough day."
Ashley Robinson added, "Love you coach! @patsummitt You always said "oneday (sic) you're going to miss your coach and the university of tennessee." You were so right!! Xoxo"
Jessica Davenport and Krystal Thomas chimed in with retweets of Debbie Antonelli saying, "Pat Summitt has given her life's work to the game and for the game: time for the game to give back to her. Thoughts and prayers for Coach..."
Candace Parker took time to share her thoughts as well saying, "Coach Summitt you never cease to amaze me with your strength and courage. Whenever you face adversity you tackle it head on! True inspiration for me and one of the strongest women I know. I love you and we will handle this together as the Lady Vols always have, like FAMILY."