Summitt steps aside, Warlick new Tennessee coach

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One of Summitt’s former stars, Tamika Catchings, saw the news on TV during a meeting.

“Everyone in the back of their minds was thinking this was going to happen anyway. Holly will do a good job,” she said.

Last season, while Summitt devoted more attention to her health, Warlick took the lead during games and handled postgame interviews, while the entire staff handled recruiting and practices. Even so, Summitt still managed to put on her trademark icy stare a time or two during the tournament.

“As I’ve said many times, Pat Summitt is a pioneer in basketball,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Her amazing career accomplishments are among an elite group of leaders. Very few people leave a lasting legacy in their chosen professions and Coach Summitt has done just that at the University of Tennessee and in women’s basketball. She raised the level of commitment, pride and notoriety of her sport. I am honored to call her a friend.”

Summitt’s diagnosis came during one of the Lady Vols’ most disappointing stretches _ by Summitt’s lofty standards, anyway. Tennessee hasn’t won a national championship since 2008 and hasn’t even reached the Final Four, which ties for its longest such drought in program history.

Tennessee’s five seniors were part of the team that lost in the first round of the 2009 NCAA tournament, the only time in school history the Lady Vols had bowed out on the first weekend.

Those seniors promised they would win a ninth national championship this season _ not just for Summitt, but as center Vicki Baugh put it, ” … for everyone who has Alzheimer’s.”

But they couldn’t make it back to the Final Four, losing to Baylor and Brittney Griner, a player Summitt couldn’t convince to come to Knoxville.

Summitt’s career ends with a 1,098-208 record, 16 regular-season Southeastern Conference championships and 16 SEC tournament titles.

During her time, Tennessee never failed to reach the NCAA tournament, never received a seed lower than No. 5 and reached 18 Final Fours.

“Words cannot adequately describe the extraordinary career that Pat Summitt has had in the world of basketball,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. “She is a model of class and courage, and I don’t think that enough can be said for just how much Pat has accomplished in building and elevating women’s basketball to its current heights.”

Her impact reaches beyond wins and losses. Every Lady Vol player who has completed her eligibility at Tennessee has graduated, and 74 former players, assistants, graduate assistants, team managers and directors of basketball operations are currently among the coaching ranks at every level of basketball.

“You think about the University of Tennessee and you think of Pat Summitt,” Catchings said. “You don’t think of anyone else. The great players that have come and gone, coaches that have come and gone, but the legacy that she built for herself and for the university. It’s amazing how far women’s basketball has come. Her legacy isn’t over yet.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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