KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pat Summitt's family said Sunday that the past few days have been difficult for the former Tennessee women's basketball coach as her Alzheimer's disease progresses.
Amid reports of Summitt's failing health, her family issued a statement asking for prayers and saying that the 64-year-old Summitt is surrounded by those who mean the most to her. It also asked for privacy.
Former Tennessee player Tamika Catchings was flying to Knoxville to visit the coach instead of returning to Indiana with the WNBA's Fever. Other former players and those in the University of Tennessee and the women's basketball communities were issuing support on Twitter through the "PRAYFORPAT" hashtag.
Summitt stepped down as Tennessee's coach in 2012, one year after announcing her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She went 1,098-208 with eight national titles. She has the most career wins of any Division I men's or women's basketball coach.
Since her diagnosis, Summitt has played a leading role in the fight against Alzheimer's. She launched the Pat Summitt Foundation, which is dedicated to researching and educating people about the disease while also providing services to patients and caregivers. The Pat Summitt Alzheimer's Clinic is scheduled to open at the University of Tennessee medical center in December.
"When she fights this disease, what she has taught all of us is how to do it with courage," former UT women's athletic director Joan Cronan said at a 2015 charity event honoring Summitt. "She's done that from Day 1. It's been about (how) we can find a cure for this disease, and she has done it facing it straight-on and she's done it giving back as she always has."
Summitt continues to hold a position as head coach emeritus of the Tennessee women's basketball team. She attended nearly every home game and many practices in the first year after stepping down as coach, though she had a less visible role in subsequent seasons. Summitt cut back on public appearances in recent years.
WORLD SERIES: The championship comes down to two teams who were not expected to make it to Omaha, Neb., let alone the final best-of-three series that starts tonight (7, ESPN). Coastal Carolina (53-17) has made it this far in its first CWS appearance. Arizona (48-22) is here in Jay Johnson's first season as coach after having not made the national tournament in the three years after the Wildcats' 2012 national title.
"There are a lot of talented teams, possibly more talented than Jay's team and my team, but the teams that have played the best are here," Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore said. "There are a tremendous amount of similarities between us."
OBITUARY: Hal Lear, the sweet-shooting guard who starred for Temple in the 1950s and holds the school record for points in a season, has died at 81. Mr. Lear died at his home in White Plains, N.Y., on Saturday from a recurrence of prostate cancer and the effects of spinal stenosis, according to his wife, Maggie. Lear scored a school-record 745 points as a senior in the 1955-56 season, and his scoring average of 24.0 that year ranks fourth in Temple history.