Pat Summitt announced on Wednesday that she would be retiring as head coach of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team because of early-onset dementia. Summitt took over at Tennessee in 1974 and won eight championships over 38 years. Her impact was widespread, and her retirement even caused Celtics coach Doc Rivers to break down during his press conference after his team’s game on Wednesday night.
“Didn’t want to get emotional, I’m an emotional person,” Rivers began. “When you see a giant like that leave the game — and leave the game because of health — it’s just sad. She is responsible for women’s basketball, but she’s not just a women’s basketball coach — she’s a great coach.
“The longer I’m in this, I just realize how much coaching means to all of us. Pat Summitt is retiring at her age, and Larry Brown is taking a job at his age. It just tells you how much (coaching) is in your blood and how much you love it. For her not to be able to do, to me, it’s very sad.”
Summitt’s new role will be as “head coach emeritus,” and her responsibilities will include helping with recruiting, watching practice, joining staff meetings, helping coaches analyze practice and games, and advising the Southeastern Conference on women’s basketball issues and mentoring players. Her teams never failed to make the NCAA Tournament, and never had worse than a five seed. She reached 18 Final Fours and won eight titles. Her accomplishments were incredible, and it’s easy to see why Rivers became emotional talking about her.
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