THURSDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Less than one year after revealing that she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, celebrated women's basketball coach Pat Summitt is stepping aside as head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols team.
"I've loved being the head coach at Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognize that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role," the Hall of Famer said in a statement issued Wednesday by the school, the Associated Press reported.
The decision to retire was only a matter of time since Summitt, 59, the winningest coach in college basketball history, announced Aug. 23 that she had early-onset Alzheimer's disease. During her last season as head coach, Summitt received enormous support from players and fans, but her every move was closely watched to see how she was doing, the news service said.
Mickie DeMoss, who served as Summitt's assistant for many years, said she's happy for her former head coach, who will assume the title head coach emeritus.
"Her health and well-being are most important to me," DeMoss told the AP. "She now can focus on doing things for Pat. She has given 38 years to UT and to women's basketball. Now, she can do what's best for herself, every day. I'm happy for my friend, and happy that she can begin a new chapter in her life."
Summitt will take on new duties with the basketball program, including helping with recruiting, watching practice, and helping coaches analyze practices and games. She will also serve as a spokeswoman in the fight against Alzheimer's.
"If anyone asks, you can find me observing practice or in my office," Summitt said. "Coaching is the great passion of my life, and the job to me has always been an opportunity to work with our student-athletes and help them discover what they want. I will continue to make them my passion
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