This is awful, terrible, sad, heart-breaking news: Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early on-set dementia. The story was broken and first-reported by The Knoxville News Sentinel. Click here for the full story in The Tennessean.
Summitt is the winningest coach in college basketball with 1,071 wins (I said college basketball, but we can agree that the men's game does not compare to the women's game; this isn't apples to apples. Regardless, it's a ton of wins). She's been at UT for the past 37 years, and she is 59. She said she plans to remain at the school to coach, with her assistants carrying an increased work load, for as long as she can. She said she knows there will be limitations that will come up as a result of her illness.
Here is the tricky part - the Lady Vols is the best program women's hoops team ever built, all by Summitt. But they haven't reached the Final Four since 2008. If this team starts to falter, by the standards both she and her teams have set, what does UT do with Summitt?
Nothing. Let her stay there until she wants to go. I can't see this Pat Summitt staying around if she can't be Pat Summitt.
Considering how powerful this woman's presence has been in her sport and her game, I hate to think of a Pat Summitt that does not look like the Pat Summitt I've always known. While I realize there likely will not be a happy ending to this story, I hope that whenever she decides to retire it is with the dignity that she herself has created, and sympathy is only a minor part of this story.
Either way, this just plain sucks.
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