August 24, 2011- University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt who is the winningest men’s or women’s basketball coach at any NCAA level with 1,071victories in 37 seasons announced Tuesday she has early onset dementia. Summitt has won eight national titles while coaching the Lady Vols in her career. She is just 59.
She plans to continue her coaching at the university for the upcoming season and for as long as she is healthy. She says with mental exercises and medication she hopes to manage the condition that is progressive and could eventually lead to Alzheimer’s, which her grandmother suffered from.
She said following months of erratic behavior she consulted with her physicians and visited the well-known Mayo Clinic in May. This summer she received word about her condition. She accepts she will have some good days and some bad and there will be limitations the condition will cause.
Dementia causes the loss of cognitive abilities in memory, language, attention and solving of problems beyond the normal for aging. She told her players that she was focusing on the positive and she did not want anything getting in the way of their ninth national title.
With medication, exercise and help from a great coaching staff, Summitt expects to get through this season without many problems.