Summitt steps down after dementia diagnosis

(CBS News) Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in college basketball history, is stepping down. Summitt become an icon over the past four decades at the University of Tennessee.

Less than a year ago, Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia.

Pictures: Pat Summitt

Last month, Summitt seemed to know her coaching career was coming to an end. She said at that time, "I love the game and whether I'm, you know, here and you know at UT, I may or may not coach. So it is what it is."

For 38 years, she had roamed courtside, racking up 1,098 wins against only 208 losses. Along the way, there were eight national championships and 16 conference titles that put Summitt and women's college basketball on the nation's sports map.

Shelley Collier, who played for Summitt from 1983 to 1987, told CBS News, "When you think about women's basketball, how can you not think about Pat Summitt? She has touched a lot of people's lives."

Holly Warlick, Summitt's assistant for 27 years, will succeed her, but can't really replace her. Summitt, 59, will become head coach emeritus.

Collier said of Summitt, "She is still very much alive and very much ready to fight whatever is in front of her with the way that she's done everything."

David Hyde Pierce of "Frasier" fame discussed the Summitt's dementia diagnosis on "CBS This Morning." Pierce's father and grandfather suffered from the disease and he's been a longtime advocate for Alzheimer's research. Watch his discussion in the video in the player below.


In a statement released Wednesday, the coach said: "... I recognize that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role."

That will include the job of spokesperson in the fight against the disease through The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.

Thursday school officials at the University of Tennessee are expected to join Summitt and her successor at a news conference in a formal changing of the guard and an end of an era.

Former president Ronald Reagan had the disease, disclosing it in 1994 and dying 10 years later. His wife, Nancy, called that period "the long goodbye."

"60 Minutes": Mike Wallace interviews Nancy Reagan

Recently, entertainer Glen Campbell acknowledged his struggle with Alzheimer's and launched an international farewell tour.

Glen Campbell has Alzheimer's

Campbell is one of 5.4 million Americans who are living with Alzheimer's. It is the sixth leading cause of death in this country. There is no known way to prevent it, much less cure it.

Watch Dean Reynolds' full report in the video above.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.

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