Alabama gymnastics coach steps down after 36 years

The Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama gymnastics coach Sarah Patterson is stepping down after leading the Crimson Tide to six national titles in 36 seasons.

Patterson announced her decision on Tuesday, leaving a program she took over as a 22-year-old and built into a perennial contender. She has been dealing with degenerative problems in both knees for the past few years.

''This is something I have tried to postpone but, through ongoing consultation with my physicians, it has become evident that surgery to replace both knees is necessary,'' Patterson said. ''My physician shared with me that it will be a year or more before I am back to a normal lifestyle.''

She will remain as a special assistant to the athletic director and serve on the NCAA gymnastics committee starting in September. Alabama selected assistant Dana Duckworth as Patterson's replacement, pending formal approval by the board of trustees.

Duckworth won two individual NCAA championships at Alabama in the early 1990s.

Patterson posted 1,006 wins and 43 postseason championships during her tenure. The Tide's Champions Plaza outside Coleman Coliseum bears Patterson's name.

The gymnastics team has drawn an average of 10,000-plus fans for 11 consecutive years and won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.

''Although this is certainly not how any of us wanted Sarah's incredible coaching career to come to an end, we are excited that Sarah has agreed to continue to serve the university and this department,'' athletic director Bill Battle said. ''At this point, though, we are focused on her return to health. We will make every effort to continue the tremendous momentum that Sarah and David created and maintained for our gymnastics program.''

Patterson's husband, David, spent 30 years as the Tide's associate head coach before retiring and working as a volunteer coach. He also will step down.

''I am grateful that, for 36 years, David and I were able to implement our coaching philosophy of trying to develop well-rounded young women who are ready to make a difference in the lives of others upon their graduation from this University,'' Patterson said.

The Tide won the Southeastern Conference title and claimed an NCAA-best 27th top four national finish last season.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Real's Ronaldo, Modric, Benzema rested for Deportivo game

      Real's Ronaldo, Modric, Benzema rested for Deportivo game

      MADRID (Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo will play no part in Real Madrid's game against Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday after the prolific Portuguese forward was left out of the squad on Friday. Midfielder Luka Modric and striker Karim Benzema were … More »

      Reuters - 2 minutes 32 seconds ago
    • Russian doping conspiracy benefited over 1,000 athletes

      Russian doping conspiracy benefited over 1,000 athletes

      By Mitch Phillips LONDON (Reuters) - More than 1,000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports were involved in an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive doping tests as Moscow 'hijacked international sport', an independent WADA report … More »

      Reuters - 4 minutes 46 seconds ago
    • Doping-Russian doping conspiracy benefited over 1,000 competitors

      * Independent WADA report details institutional conspiracy * Russia 'corrupted London Games on unprecedented scale' * More than 30 sports, including soccer, were involved (Adds detail, further reaction) By Mitch Phillips LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) … More »

      Reuters - 6 minutes ago
    • Doping-Reaction to McLaren report into Russian doping

      The second and final part of an independent commission report, led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, was published on Friday and provided more details of an elaborate state-sponsored doping scheme operated by Russia. "It is alarming to … More »

      Reuters - 6 minutes ago
    • Doping Probe: 'Unprecedented' Russian Corruption

      Doping Probe: 'Unprecedented' Russian Corruption

      A World Anti-Doping Agency investigation says Russia, backed by the government, corrupted the 2012 London Olympics on an "unprecedented scale." The head of that probe said Friday more than 1000 Russian Olympic athletes are now linked to doping. … More »

      AP Canada - 9 minutes ago