Gators' coach Amanda Butler among those expressing concern for Tennessee coach Pat Summitt
Florida women's basketball coach Amanda Butler, a native of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., is among the hundreds of fans, former players and coaches who are expressing shock and concern over the announcement that legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summit has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.
“To say that I was shocked or upset when I learned of Pat Summitt’s condition is an understatement,'' Butler said. "Once you get past that initial shock of hearing such troubling news then you think about the person and you think about the challenge that’s ahead of them and what they’ve already been dealing with. I think that toughness is a word that is synonymous with Pat Summitt. She’s an example of toughness and an example of class, handling adversity and leading. We will continue to see all of those characteristics and even more in her personality in the way she’ll coach her team and the way that her team will continue to compete. It’s easy to get caught up in wins and losses and the number of championships an individual has won. Something like this reminds us of the human aspect of people who are competing and Coach is the best.''
Summitt, 59, made the announcement public today, but spoke with the Knoxville News Sentinel prior to the announcement. She said she has no plans to quit coaching. She will begin her 38th season at the helm of the Lady Vols program this season. She has 1,071 career victories and has led UT to eight national championships.
Butler said being a native of Tennessee makes the news seem that much more personal.
“When you’re a basketball fan, or a person who played basketball or someone who hopes to coach basketball and you are from the state of Tennessee, you know who Pat Summitt is,'' she said. "You’ve followed her career. You’ve learned from her. You’ve had books signed by her. You’ve sat and listened to her many times as you possibly can. It feels personal to everyone, though. Pat is a powerful figure in Tennessee, but what she’s done on a national level to gain notoriety for the sport is amazing.”