Mitchell, Calipari express sympathies over Summitt


UK Women’s Basketball Head Coach Matthew Mitchell cheers on his team as the play Miami (OH) in Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday, Nov. 1st, 2009. Photo by Scott Hannigan

University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with dementia, it was announced Monday night.

The official diagnosis was early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, according to Go Vols Xtra.

UK women’s basketball head coach Matthew Mitchell began his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the 1999-2000 Vols squad, which finished 33-4. Mitchell expressed his appreciation of the role Summitt played in the early stages of his career, as well as his admiration of Summitt as both a coach and as a woman.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Coach Summitt and her family,” Mitchell said in a UK Athletics release. “She’s done so much for me personally and I wouldn’t be where I am professionally without the contributions she has made in my life. She has been such an incredible example to me and she is someone I care for tremendously. It took a great amount of courage to address this issue, but it doesn’t surprise me. She’s always been a very courageous woman. My family is praying for Coach Summitt and Tyler. I also know Mickie (DeMoss) and Holly (Warlick) along with the entire Tennessee will be there for Coach Summitt during this difficult time.”

UK men’s basketball coach John Calipari also shared his high regards for Summitt through a comment Tuesday in which he praised Summitt as a coach and promoter of women’s basketball. He said that Summitt will be in his prayers as she battles this disease.

“Pat Summitt transcends her sport,” Calipari said in the release. “She is more than just a coach; she is a leader in her field.

Pat Summitt was one of the original promoters of women’s sports and no one has done more for her sport or for women in general than she has. She will be in my daily prayers and I urge all of the Big Blue Nation to keep her in their thoughts and prayers.”

Summitt has coached 38 seasons as Tennessee’s head coach, winning eight national titles during that time. Her 1,071 victories make her the winningest college basketball coach of all-time.