April 19, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Here is a transcript of women's basketball press conference held at Thompson-Boling Arena as Pat Summitt was named Head Coach Emeritus and Holly Warlick was named the Lady Vols new head coach.
Dave Hart Opening Statement
"I could speak - as many of you could, all of you could - from the heart about Pat Summitt for hours. I don't think that would be hard for anybody in the arena today. I could reference her accomplishments within the competitive arena and that would take hours, because no one else has accomplished what Pat Summitt has accomplished in the sport of basketball. The accomplishments are actually staggering and even though I've looked at them many times, particularly yesterday and this morning, you think to yourself `Somebody is making this stuff up.' When you look at the number of championships, the number of NCAA appearances and the number of wins, it truly goes into that category where you think it's surreal in nature. But it's not surreal. It's very real indeed. I told Pat yesterday morning in a conversation we had that I felt truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her this past basketball season and I really look forward to working with her in her new role this coming year.
"When I said that, the emotion that I felt really had nothing to do with her coaching career. It was emotional for me, but it was more about who she is as a person and a mother. That's where she really excels. I've always said this having coached. When you've coached and while you're coaching, you can ask yourself two very simplistic questions if you want to gauge your level of success outside the competitive arena. I think the first question is `Did I make a difference?' The second question is `Did I have a positive impact on the young people that I coached and mentored? Did I help them grow as people and make them better people?'
"The first question, no one has ever made more of a difference for the university that they represented than Pat Summitt. No one has ever coached the game at a higher level or coached the sport that they loved than Pat Summitt. There will never be another Pat Summitt.
"I think when you look at question number two, `Did I impact the lives of the young people that I coached and mentored in a positive way?' Exhibit A, all you have to do is talk to a current or former player to get that very direct response because they represent tangible evidence to the answer to the second question.
"I also want to take a moment to recognize Tyler Summitt because it's been my pleasure to get to know Tyler Summitt very well over these last six months. I've said this to Tyler and I've said it to his mom, he is mature well beyond his years. His parents raised him very, very well. He's an extraordinary, extraordinary young person - in every way, he's extraordinary. And I can say that first-hand, from observing first-hand who he is, what he's done, how much he loves his mother and the respect he holds.
"When he called recently to tell me that he had been offered and accepted a coaching job at Marquette, it took me a day to wipe the smile off my face. That's a wonderful opportunity. And Tyler, all you've got to do is post 1,099 wins and you'll blow past your mother.
"Pat is a rare coach in so many ways, and one of those ways is she doesn't know what an average season looks like - particularly by normal standards, she doesn't know that. But nothing's normal about Pat Summitt's standards in any way, shape or form. If we could all live our lives by Pat Summitt's standards, we'd be way, way better for it.
"Before I turn it over to Pat, I want to recognize someone else who's a legend in her own right, a woman who also has meant so much to this university, so much to women's athletics nationally, worked with Pat side by side for so many years - Joan Cronan.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I now turn the microphone over to the game's greatest coach, our own coach, Pat Summitt."
Pat Summitt Opening Statement
"Thank you, Dave. I made some notes because this really means a lot to me to be here today. Yesterday illustrated to me how the Good Lord has a plan for my life. Wasn't it interesting as I stepped aside as head coach, my son Tyler stepped into a game as an assistant with Marquette women's basketball? I can tell you I'm so proud of Tyler.
"38 years ago this month - I want you to listen to this - I received a letter from Dr. Helen B. Watson of the University of Tennessee asking me if I'd be willing to coach the women's basketball team. Listen to this. All Dr. Watson offered me was $250 a month - I mean, I was bouncing checks all over the place - and the opportunity to teach and get my Master's degree. She said that the team had excellent potential and that they would be happy to have me as their coach. I can say I have been happy to be your coach.
"Growing up on a dairy farm in Henrietta, Tennessee - I doubt anybody has been there other than Tyler and myself - it really was a great ride for me. I learned from my parents about the work that we had to do and the work we must love to do. I can tell you I have loved my work at the University of Tennessee. It's been awesome. I can say for almost four decades, It has been a privilege to make and impact on the lives of 161 women who have been worn the orange. I'm so proud of them, the Lady Vol student-athletes. It's an honor to see them graduate and become successful young women. Together, with these young women, a great staff and a supportive administration, we will have taken a magnificent journey.
"We have grown the game of women's basketball each and every day along the way supported by the best fans in the country. No doubt. I think we can all agree on that. We have managed to win some ball games and hang championship banners in Thompson-Boling Arena. I made a choice early in my career to challenge myself to step up my game each and every day. You can be sure that I will take this same attitude into my new role as head coach emeritus and continue to teach our players the same commitment. I can promise you ladies, I'm here for you. Trust me that will happen. The success of the Lady Vols will always, always continue. I hope to build a new success with the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.
"Finally, I have a special message and challenge to our fans and our supporters. You have helped to make Lady Vol Basketball very special. I need you right now - I want you to listen to this - to step up more than ever to support our new head coach Holly Warlick. Holly, I want you to come up here. It is now time to turn over my whistle to you. Thank you."
Pat Summitt RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA
On when she came to the realization that it was time to make this decision
"I just felt like it was time for me to step down, knowing that with Holly it was going to be in great hands. She's a great coach and I'm going to continue to support her. It's never a good time, but you have to find the time that you think is the right time, and that is now."
On telling the team of her decision and her advice for Warlick
"Obviously, I wanted the team to know I'm still going to be here, I'm going to be in practice, I'm going to be yelling at them still. They may not like that but it makes me feel good. But I just felt Holly had earned this opportunity and I'm still going to be there for her and support her in every way, just like I want to be with this team and continue to be there for them."
On how much her continued role in the department and with the team might inspire others with Alzheimer's to continue the work they love
"With the Alzheimer's, it's very passionate because of my diagnosis. I never thought I would be diagnosed as I was, but I want to continue to be involved. I'm passionate about it and, hopefully, we can have a good fight and that's exactly what I want to do, to bring awareness to the Alzheimer's foundation.
On her core values helping prepare student-athletes for life after basketball and also on her receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom
"Obviously, I didn't see it coming but that's a tremendous honor and I appreciate that very much. As far as our student-athletes, they go to class, they do the right things. On the court, they lay it on the line. They're going to keep winning games and I'm going to be there to see it. I just can't tell you how the good Lord has blessed me in so many ways. I just thank them (the players) and I thank all of you who are here today that have touched my life in so many ways and made Tyler grow up. I'm proud of him. It is what it is and I want to keep working and try to help them do the best that they can do."
On her top priority in her new role
"To come to work every day, to be around the student-athletes - maybe they'll keep me young. I'm getting ready to turn the big one but I can still - yeah, 30; hardly. But being around young people, it's a breath of fresh air every day. And having such a great group, our managers, everybody - they're invested, so they're still going to see me and I'm still going to yell at them. But I love these young people and, hopefully, they'll keep me young.
On Tyler Summitt getting his first coaching opportunity in the middle of his mother decision to step down
Tyler Summitt - "First of all, I want to say this was her decision. She took time after the season, thought about everything, and the thing my mom has always taught me is put the team before yourself. She really felt like this was the best thing for the Lady Vol program. She's still going to be in a mentoring role and that's a role not many people have seen. I've seen it and the players have seen it - it's been behind the scenes. We all see her on the sidelines ripping into a referee or chewing out her players, right? That's what she's known for. But she will still have the role of mentor and role model and mom to her players and I'm very happy for her.
"As far as Marquette goes, I'm very excited to start. She's got a few pointers for me and we'll see what happens.
Pat Summitt - "I don't know if I have any pointers for him. He studies the game all the time and I'm proud of him and wish him the best."
On Tyler Summitt coaching his AAU team to an interesting victory over the weekend
Tyler Summitt - "Yes, I was coaching my AAU team and we actually had five players. A lot of them were taking the ACT- I coach 17-and-under girls - they were taking the ACT. Academics first, right mom? They couldn't make the tournament, so I had five. One of them was actually late, and it's my policy that if you're late you're not going to start; you might not even play. So we started the game with four players. The refs, the other coach and everybody in the stands were looking at me like I was crazy, but something my mom always instilled in me was that discipline comes first. You set the standards and you keep them there. And trust me; she'll be keeping those standards here at Tennessee."
UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek About Pat Summitt
"There aren't many people lucky enough to have worked with a legend, and I consider it a privilege to work with Pat Summitt, a true legend by any definition. We are among a handful of universities that have the unique experience to be living with a legend, and that legend continuing with us.
"Now, as Dave (Hart) has said, I could talk about Pat all day and tell some stories, but I am not going to do that today. We'll hold that for later. I promise not to spend too much time talking about this. I'd like to share my favorite thing about Pat Summitt. She really cares deeply about her student-athletes. That's the number-one characteristic that I admire about her. She believes in the whole student; she wants them to graduate. She actually requires them to graduate. Every player that's played for her for four years has graduated from the University of Tennessee. Pat, that is a phenomenal accomplishment." (Coach Summitt says, `thank you.') Also, for your information, Tyler is graduating, and I think that is a pre-requisite for him getting the job (assistant coaching position at Marquette University). Is that correct, Tyler? (Tyler Summitt answers, `that's true; that's true.')
"She also wants her student-athletes to be productive human beings. And by the way, they do all those things, and then she expects them to win national championships, SEC championships and be among the elite every year in women's basketball. She also never stops nurturing her student-athletes. Her commitment to women and her women is for life, for better or for worse.
"Now, many people talk about her stare, and I asked her a few minutes ago if Tyler had it, and she said, `I don't think he's got it.' I said, `you need to teach him that before he leaves' (for his new job).
"I'll tell you what I like the most about Pat Summitt, and that's not her stare, but the love that's in her heart for her student-athletes. And the love that she has for this great university. And the love she has for women's athletics, for athletics in general and for the fans. Pat, we really appreciate you for those purposes.
"Pat, I look forward to working with you in this new role as the head coach emeritus. We are delighted that you chose to do that. And I know that you can come over to my office every once in a while and coach me up as well. (Coach Summitt responds, "Okay, I'll hold you to that.')."
Chancellor Cheek's Comments About Holly Warlick
"It's a great day for you and a great day for us. How often is it that the hometown girl gets to be the coach of the greatest team in America? Holly, as you know, is no stranger to the Lady Vol culture. She's been a huge part of Pat Summitt's coaching team and making the success we have had for many, many years...27, is that right? Plus those four years as a player, right? And she is proud of our traditions and will carry those forward. Holly, now it's your turn to run the show, and I'm glad Pat gave you her whistle.
"I promise to you my personal support and speaking for the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Volunteers everywhere, we're with you, we're looking forward to the future and we look for great times ahead. So, it's your show, coach. Go Vols!
Comments From UT Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart About Holly Warlick
"As Holly takes the reins of the Lady Vol program, it would not be appropriate for me to begin anywhere else but to have you look to the rafters in Thompson-Boling Arena. Because, what you see here is the making of Pat Summitt's outstanding career. The championship banners, the SEC titles, eight national championships in recognition of so many outstanding players who've gone through her program. The first banner to be hung in recognition of a basketball player, men's and women's, in the form of a retired jersey, was that jersey of Holly Warlick. She (Holly) wasn't excited when some of those photos were shown (during video presentation). Men's programs weren't the only ones wearing short, short pants back in the day, Holly, as we would say.
"Holly's name and Holly's presence on the bench are really woven into the fabric of Lady Vol basketball, but that is not why I made the decision to offer the job to Holly Warlick. That's nice, but that had nothing to do with that decision. Watching Holly perform this year in her role in a very unique circumstance with Pat fighting this terrible disease, watching Holly Warlick grow as a coach, as a person and as someone who could handle the leadership role that was demanded. And that role went far beyond the norm as I indicated a moment ago.
"As the season progressed, I became more and more convinced that we did not need to go on a national search. Pat and I talked regularly as the season went along about a lot of things. There was a time late in the season when she said to me, `Dave, if I made the decision, and I haven't made the decision yet, but if I made the decision not to coach next year, have you given any thought to who will follow.' And I said, `I have, Pat. I am giving very serious consideration to Holly.' And she said, `that would excite me.' And I don't think she said it, either, based on her being Holly's mentor or Holly being her former player. I think she made it very sincerely that she believed as I did, that Holly Warlick could perform in that role and perform very, very well. And so, Holly, I think we all share a level of excitement that you have taken the reins of the Lady Vol basketball program."
On the fan base having a consensus that UT hire from within
"First of all, I've never seen a fan base that had a consensus on anything. (laughter from crowd) And I don't think ours is any different. It didn't weigh heavily at all. I think you need to have the pulse of that, but this was all about Holly. This was all about Holly's capability to come in and take the reins of this program. And Pat had said in that same conversation I referenced earlier that I'll support whomever you think is the right person. To me that comment was more important than anyone else's comment relative to potential search process. We got the right person, she's on my right, and we're excited about moving forward with Holly as our head coach."
Comments From Lady Vol Head Basketball Coach Holly Warlick
"How lucky we've all been to have Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee. It's been incredible. Pat and I have had several conversations and my biggest concern with Pat is, `are you O.K?' And she said, `I'm O.K.; you need to be happy.' But, I said, `Pat, I just want to make sure you are O.K.' and she pulled the stare out on me and said, `You need to be happy, and I'm not going anywhere.' So, I'm happy.
"I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Dr. Cheek and Dave, thank you so much for giving me this incredible opportunity. I get to coach at a school that's always been in my blood, and this is my home. It's only taken me 27 years to get to this point, and I just really didn't want to rush it. I told Pat to take all the time she needed (laughter from crowd).
"People have asked me, `why have you not left? and I said, `why would I?' Why would I leave a place that is rich in tradition, has an unbelievable administration that has always supported women's basketball and women's sports, and has the most incredibly supportive fans in the country. It didn't take me being a genius to stay here and love what I do. I do love this program, and I'm proud of this team. They work incredibly hard, and every day they put in the time and effort. I'm excited about the young ladies we have coming in (signees) next year.
"When you stay in this business, as coaches you surround yourself with great people. Today, I have one member on my coaching staff, and that's Dean Lockwood. And our support staff, our secretaries and I do appreciate everything they do. I have my family here as well. I wasn't going to say this, but my mom asked, `now, do I get seats behind the bench, so when you call the wrong play I can say, what are you doing?' No, Fran, you're still going to sit about 20 rows up. (laughter from crowd) "It is an honor and privilege to be the head coach at the University of Tennessee. Thank you very much."
Holly Warlick RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA
On what it meant when Pat put the whistle around her neck
"Pat just giving me her blessing - that was my biggest thing. For her giving me the opportunity as a young female to play for her, and she's been a coach to me, a mentor and a great friend. To have the opportunity to work under Pat Summitt for 27 years is the most incredible thing I can say. I have been around her, as everyone has said, I've seen her stare, and she has blown this whistle quite a bit. I hope that's one tradition I can care on and push these young ladies and make sure I use this whistle to the best of my ability."
On whether she felt as if she was being evaluated as the season went along
"I didn't think about that. I was put in a situation and did what any assistant coach would do, and that is help the head coach and always be ready to step up and do what needs to be done. So, this year I needed to step up and do what needed to be done. My concern was not myself; it was about these young ladies and giving them the opportunity to succeed in every way possible. We went about our business every day like we did with Pat five years ago. We wanted to make sure we had these ladies prepared to compete for SEC championships and to compete in the NCAA. That was my main goal, to make sure these young ladies knew we were here off the court for them and as important, we were going to put them in a situation to win and try to keep things as normal as possible."
On how she views Pat's role now as head coach emeritus
"I see Pat in the role as what she did this year. She's going to be a great mentor for these young women. She's going to be there; she's going to watch practice and be involved in on-campus recruiting, which is huge for us. She built this program, is the tradition of the Lady Vols, and we're going to use her in every way possible to help us continue that tradition."
On how quickly she'll move to hire the remainder of her staff
"We have an active search ongoing right now, and hopefully within this week or next, we should have a staff in place."
On whether Pat saying good job to her after the SEC Tournament victory was a turning point from a confidence standpoint
"I think so. It was tremendous for her to say that after the SEC Tournament for myself, and just knowing that she knew I was making sure that the program was in good hands and we were carrying on as she would see fit. Absolutely, it meant the world."
On the reaction from recruits about this transition and the fact Pat would still be around
"Our staff has really worked hard in maintaining recruiting the young female athletes. We've held on to some great kids. I think the uncertainty about what was happening was a little bit of a concern, but immediately yesterday Dean and I got on the phone, and we've had nothing but positive reaction for myself and Dean staying and especially Pat staying on as well. It's been really a positive response for us on the recruiting side."
On whether there's anything she might want to do differently from Pat Summitt as coach
"Pat and I have the same values and philosophy. We really believe in defense and rebounding and making sure the female athlete continues to go to class, and those things are not going to change. Sorry, ladies, you have to go to class (directed toward team). The only thing I won't make you do is wear those short shorts I had on when I played. The things that Pat instilled in me is how I have grown as a coach. I think I will continue to use those values and philosophies with our basketball team."
On whether she gave much thought to replacing a legend
"It's exciting. It's exciting to follow a legend. I've coached under a legend for 27 years. I love it. It's a great challenge for me, and I can't wait to get started."