Sports

A courageous Summitt promises to keep coaching basketball at Tennessee

 

Tennessee's Pat Summitt plans to coach "as long as the good Lord is willing" despite recently being diagnosed with early onset dementia.

In a statement from Summitt released by the university on Tuesday, the Hall of Fame coach said she visited with doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., after the end of the 2010-11 basketball season ended and was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, over the summer.

"Hearing today's news about Pat Summit's diagnosis was numbing to me," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "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."

Summitt met with the Lady Volunteers on Tuesday to discuss her diagnosis with them. Junior guard Taber Spani said the meeting was business-like, with Summitt telling the Lady Vols nothing would get in the way for their quest of a ninth national title this season.

"More than anything she just emphasized that she's our coach and that she wanted us to have complete confidence in her, and we do," Spani said.

As college basketball's winningest coach, Summitt has spent 37 seasons at Tennessee and has 1,071 career victories and eight national championships. The Lady Vols have failed to reach the Final Four since they last won the national championship in 2008.

Stanford hosts Tennessee on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/AP

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