Legendary College Basketball Coach Pat Summitt Dies at the Age of 64
Hall of Famer Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in the history of Division I college basketball, died early Tuesday morning. She was 64.
Summitt was a pioneer of women’s college basketball. She coached the Tennessee Volunteers for 38 years, winning eight National Championships, 16 SEC Championships, and 1,098 total games. Her championship total is second only to the legendary John Wooden‘s 10, and her win total is second to none.
Summitt paved the way for other successful women’s college basketball programs. When she started coaching the Lady Vols in 1974, just two years after Title IX, her salary was just $8,900 per year and she had to compete with physical education classes for practice time in the university’s multi-purpose gym. By the time she stepped down in 2012, Summitt was earning a seven-figure salary—the first women’s basketball coach to break the million dollar mark—and the Lady Vols had their very own practice facility.
Sadly, in 2011 Summitt announced she had been diagnosed with early onset “Alzheimer’s Type” dementia, and that she would be stepping down at the end of the 2011-12 season. Shortly thereafter Summitt was the recipient of ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But since then little had been heard about her until Sunday, when her family issued a statement suggesting that the end was near.
Summitt’s son Tyler released a statement on behalf of his family early Tuesday.
“Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced,” he said. “Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.”
Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart issued a statement saying Summitt is “synonymous” with Tennessee. “She was a genuine, humble leader who focused on helping people achieve more than they thought they were capable of accomplishing.”
The most famous Tennessee Volunteer of all time, Peyton Manning, also weighed in on her passing.
“When you hear her former players talk about her and the impact she had on them as players and people it speaks volumes,” Manning said. “She loved everything about Tennessee. Everyone in the state was proud to have her as an ambassador. She had a huge impact on everyone she met. I always felt better every time I was around her.”
Tyler Summitt said a private funeral and burial will be held this week in Middle Tennessee. However, a public memorial is also being planned for the Volunteers’ Thompson-Boling Arena.
Hat Tip – [ESPN]