The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

93° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Butts’ mentor, Pat Summitt, diagnosed with dementia

When Tennessee Hall of Fame head coach Pat Summitt announced Monday that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia during the summer, the news hit not only in Knoxville, Tenn., but across the women’s basketball world.

At Arizona, the news was especially concerning to women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts, who played four years under Summitt as a Lady Volunteer and won two NCAA National Titles for the all-time winningest NCAA coach.

“When you think about women’s basketball, it’s hard to think about it as a whole without thinking about Pat Summitt,” Butts said in a release from the school. “That’s just the way it is and she’s certainly worked hard and earned that right.

“Now, to have not only one of the best coaches in the game, whether it’s men’s or women’s … you attach something with such a stigma to (her) such as dementia, you attach that to (her) and everybody takes a step back.”

Diagnosed after the 2010-11 season, Summitt, 59, said she still plans to coach the Lady Vols this upcoming season and she’s already receiving treatment for the condition that could lead to Alzheimer’s, which Summitt’s grandmother had, according to ESPN.

While she said her assistant coaches will take on more responsibilities, Summitt will remain the figurehead for women’s basketball at Tennessee, and the eight-time national champion has no plans for accepting sympathy for her condition.

“There’s not going to be any pity party and I’ll make sure of that,” Summitt told the Knoxville News.

«I plan to continue to be your coach,» she added in a release from Tennessee. «Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days.»

Butts played under Summitt from 1997-2000, winning the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and national titles in 1997 and 1998.

“There’s no one that’s going to tell her she can’t fight this fight,” Butts said in the release. “The university, the staff, the players, everybody’s there to support her and we certainly will continue to do that. That will always be my family, and she will always be my coach. I’m there for her with everything she needs.”

— Kevin Zimmerman

More to Discover
Activate Search