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Pat Summitt says it was her decision to step down as Tennessee coach

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:07 AM EDT, Sat October 6, 2012
Pat Summitt remains involved in mentoring Tennessee basketball players and in recruiting.
Pat Summitt remains involved in mentoring Tennessee basketball players and in recruiting.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Her statement comes one day after Summitt said in an affidavit that she felt forced out
  • Summitt: "Anyone who knows me knows that any such effort would have met with resistance"
  • A university spokeswoman says she is "saddened" Summitt "has been drawn into this"
  • Summitt won more than 1,000 games and eight national titles

(CNN) -- Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest major college basketball coach, said Friday that it was 100% her decision to step down as head coach of the Tennessee women's team after her diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's.

Her statement came one day after an affidavit she filed, in which Summitt said she had felt forced out.

"It was entirely my decision to step down from my position as Head Coach of women's basketball at the University of Tennessee. As I stated at my press conference in April when I announced my decision, I loved being the Head Coach for 38 years, but, after consultation with my son, my doctors, my lawyer, and several close friends, I concluded that the time had come to move into the future and step into a new role," Summitt said in a written statement Friday.

In April, the coach announced her on-court retirement eight months after revealing her diagnosis.

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"I did not then, and I do not now, feel that I was 'forced out' by the University. Anyone who knows me knows that any such effort would have met with resistance. If my affidavit has caused confusion on that point, it needs to be dispelled," she said.

Summitt lauded as she steps down

In her affidavit, Summitt described a meeting in March with athletics director Dave Hart, in which she said she was told she would no longer be coach after 38 seasons. Summit wrote that she had wanted to make that decision herself.

"This was very surprising to me and very hurtful," she said in her affidavit, which came in a lawsuit filed by a former media relations director for women's sports, Debby Jennings. Jennings is suing the school for age and gender discrimination and for retaliation.

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Margie Nichols, vice chancellor for communications for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, also released a statement Friday, hailing Summitt as a legend.

"Our goal through this transition has always been to respect her legacy as the best coach in America. We're saddened that Coach Summitt has been drawn into this. We stand by Pat and her statements, both today and at her press conference in April, that it was her decision to step aside as head coach and become head coach emeritus of the Lady Vol basketball team," she said.

"We are eager to respond to the other allegations in the lawsuit and will do so through the judicial process."

Summitt, who led the Lady Vols to eight national championships and whose 1,098 wins are the most in major college basketball history, remains involved in mentoring Tennessee players and recruiting as the team's head coach emeritus through April 2013.

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