KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Former players, coaches and sports personalities are reacting to the news that Pat Summitt has stepped down as head coach of the Lady Vols.
UT announced Wednesday that Summitt will serve as head coach emeritus for the program. She coached for one season after being diagnosed with early onset dementia ("Alzheimer's Type").
Summitt's successor is Holly Warlick, who served as an assistant at Tennessee for 27 years.
Former Lady Vol Chamique Holdsclaw spoke with WKRN in Nashville Wednesday.
"I'm not really shocked because I was in Knoxville like a week ago and coach told me her plans," Holdsclaw said. "I'm just happy she made the best decision for her and (her son) Tyler. Pat Summitt inspires no matter what she's going to do."
Holdsclaw helped lead the Lady Vols to three consecutive national championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
Candace Parker, who helped the Lady Vols to back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008, tweeted "4 yrs removed from UT I still hear "PARKER REBOUND!" in my head during games... Thanks Coach Pat, I love you! #OnceALadyVolAlwaysALadyVol"
Former Lady Vol and ESPN analyst Kara Lawson tweeted simply, "Thank you, Pat Summitt!"
Good Morning America Anchor and former college star Robin Roberts tweeted "Even though #PatSummitt is stepping down as head coach...she will remain a strong presence for the Lady Vols. Much respect and love. XO"
Roberts and Summitt are longtime friends. Roberts has said Summitt "coached" her during her battle with breast cancer.
Former UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton tweeted "Only One Pat Summitt. Blessed to have worked with her. She set a new standard for Women's Basketball and has defined "Legend" in our state."
ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale tweeted "Wish Pat Summitt all THE BEST - A GOLIATH in coaching & LIFE. #HALLOFFAMESOLIDGOLD"
LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell, who played and coached under Summitt, issued this statement: "Coach Summitt is the reason I am a coach and why I am here (at LSU) today. She gave me an opportunity to go into coaching as a graduate assistant in 1998. More importantly, she has always been there for me since I was 18 years old. She's my mentor, my friend and a part of my family and that will last forever. She has been a pioneer in opening doors for women in so many areas. Those who have played or coached for Coach Summitt always take a part of her with us wherever we go in our respective jobs. I've taken her with me in teaching young ladies to be the very best they can be. Her influence on this game, the University of Tennessee and the Southeastern Conference will always be impactful. That will continue in any role she plays."
Several more head coaches of Lady Vols opponents spoke to USA Today Wednesday.
"She's done so many things with class and integrity," said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. "She's so well respected by everybody in the profession that I think you just go, boy, I would love to be like her. I think she's impacted every coach who coaches."
"Pat is one of those rare individuals whose influence crosses all boundary lines," said Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale. "Literally thousands of coaches in a vast array of sports abide by her tenets, passing them on as gospel to their players. "I, and an entire generation of women's basketball coaches will always be indebted to her for the culture of excellence she helped to create in our sport."
"I will miss seeing her on the sidelines on game day, but I am very happy Pat will be continuing her work with Tennessee as head coach emeritus," said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. "She is a model of class and courage."
Former Vols wide receiver and NFL star Donte Stallworth tweeted. "I'll never forget my sophomore year, @patsummitt gave our pre-game speech before playing rival Florida...She had me too hype."
Tennis legend Billie Jean King tweeted "Thank you for everything you have done. You are a true champion in life. #PatSummitt"
NBA star Lebron James tweeted "Love and s/o to the AMAZING Pat Summitt! What she did for the game will live forever. Changed lives daily. She'll be missed. #gamechanger."
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