Florida coach Amanda Butler says Tennessee is in good hands under new coach Holly Warlick
It will take some time to fully comprehend what Pat Summitt's decision to step down as the Tennessee head women's basketball coach will mean in the long run, but Florida coach Amanda Butler believes the Vols are in good hands.
The University of of Tennessee announced today that Summitt - the all-time wins leader among NCAA basketball coaches - has been named head coach emeritus following 38 seasons (1974-2012) and 1,098 victories at Tennessee. Summitt will report to Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart and will serve in a variety of endeavors. In that capacity, she will continue to serve the women's basketball program and its coaching staff and as a liaison to the Director of Athletics, remain involved in on-campus recruiting, and serve as a personal mentor to players, including life skills coaching.
Longtime associate head coach Holly Warlick has been named the new head coach. Butler, a native of Tennessee who also coached at Austin Peay in Tennessee, said she's happy for Warlick and believes the Vols hired the best person to succeed Summitt. Warlick has been with the Tennessee program for 27 years.
"I don't think there's a more capable person of leading the University of Tennessee women's basketball program than Holly Warlick,'' Butler said. "She is Tennessee women's' basketball in so many ways. She has served so loyally to Coach Summitt and been such a huge part of their success and tradition. Holly has the unique experience of having played as a Lady Vol and that makes her especially equip in the right way for this specific challenge. She did a fantastic job of leading them this year and it is a great indication that she's more than capable. I'm happy for her to get this opportunity because she certainly deserves it.''
Smmitt's decision to leave comes less than a year after she announced she has been diagnosed with the early onset of dementia.
"I've loved being the head coach at Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognize that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role," Summitt said. "I support Holly Warlick being named the next head coach, and I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward. I would like to emphasize that I fully intend to continue working as head coach emeritus, mentoring and teaching life skills to our players, and I will continue my active role as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.''
Butler, who grew up attending Summitt's camps in Tennessee, said she's confident the legendary coach is making the best decision for everyone involved.
"Pat is really smart and has a lot of wise and trustworthy people around her who were involved with her decision,'' Butler said. "That makes me confident that she made the best decision for herself, her son Tyler and for Tennessee women's basketball. Pat's making a decision that she's comfortable with, and that makes me know that it's the best decision.''
Summitt won eight national championships at Tennessee. Her final title was won in 2008 in Tampa.