Pat Summitt's legacy extends across and beyond pro, college ranks
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history who uplifted the women's game from obscurity to national prominence during her 38-year career at Tennessee, died Tuesday morning. She was 64.
With an icy glare on the sidelines, Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight national championships and prominence on a campus steeped in the traditions of the football-rich south until she retired in 2012.
Her son, Tyler Summitt, issued a statement Tuesday morning saying his mother died peacefully at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most.
"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," Tyler Summitt 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."
Summitt helped grow college women's basketball as her Lady Vols dominated the sport in the late 1980s and 1990s, winning six titles in 12 years. Tennessee the only school she coached won NCAA titles in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996-98 and 2007-08. Summitt had a career record of 1,098-208 in 38 seasons, plus 18 NCAA Final Four appearances.
She announced in 2011 at age 59 that she'd been diagnosed with early onset dementia. She coached one more season before stepping down. At her retirement, Summitt's eight national titles ranked behind the 10 won by former UCLA men's coach John Wooden. UConn coach Geno Auriemma passed Summitt after she retired.
When she stepped down, Summitt called her coaching career a "great ride."
Summitt was a tough taskmaster with a frosty glower that could strike the fear of failure in her players. She punished one team that stayed up partying before an early morning practice by running them until they vomited. She even placed garbage cans in the gym so they'd have somewhere to be sick.
Nevertheless, she enjoyed such an intimate relationship with her players that they called her "Pat."
Known for her boundless energy, Summitt set her clocks ahead a few minutes to stay on schedule.
"The lady does not slow down, ever," one of her players, Kellie Jolly, said in 1998. "If you can ever catch her sitting down doing nothing, you are one special person."
Summitt never had a losing record and her teams made the NCAA Tournament every season. She began her coaching career at Tennessee in the 1974-75 season, when her team finished 16-8.
With a 75-54 victory against Purdue on March 22, 2005, she earned her 880th victory, moving her past North Carolina's Dean Smith as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history. She earned her 1,000th career win with a 73-43 victory against Georgia on Feb. 5, 2009.
Summitt won 16 Southeastern Conference regular season titles, as well as 16 conference tournament titles. She was an eight-time SEC coach of the year and seven-time NCAA coach of the year. She also coached the U.S. women's Olympic team to the 1984 gold medal.
Summitt's greatest adversary on the court was Auriemma. The two teams played 22 times from 1995-2007. Summitt ended the series after the 2007 season.
"Pat's vision for the game of women's basketball and her relentless drive pushed the game to a new level and made it possible for the rest of us to accomplish what we did," Auriemma said at the time of her retirement.
In 1999, Summitt was inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She made the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame a year later. In 2013, she also was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Summitt was such a competitor that she refused to let a pilot land in Virginia when she went into labor while on a recruiting trip in 1990. Virginia had beaten her Lady Vols a few months earrlier, preventing them from playing for a national title on their home floor.
But it was only in 2012 when being honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award that Summitt shared she had six miscarriages before giving birth to her son, Tyler.
She was born June 14, 1952, in Henrietta, Tennessee, and graduated from Cheatham County Central High School just west of Nashville. She played college basketball at the University of Tennessee at Martin where she received her bachelor's degree in physical education. She was the co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team, which won the silver medal.
After playing at UT Martin, she was hired as a graduate assistant at Tennessee and took over when the previous head coach left.
She wrote a motivational book in 1998, "Reach for the Summitt." Additionally, she worked with Sally Jenkins on "Raise the Roof," a book about the 1997-98 championship season, and also detailed her battle with dementia in a memoir, "Sum It Up," released in March 2013 and also co-written with Jenkins.
"It's hard to pinpoint the exact day that I first noticed something wrong," Summitt wrote. "Over the course of a year, from 2010 to 2011, I began to experience a troubling series of lapses. I had to ask people to remind me of the same things, over and over. I'd ask three times in the space of an hour, `What time is my meeting again?' - and then be late."
Summitt started a foundation in her name to fight Alzheimer's in 2011 that has raised millions of dollars.
After she retired, Summitt was given the title head coach emeritus at Tennessee. She had been cutting back her public appearances over the past few years. She came to a handful of Tennessee games this past season and occasionally also traveled to watch her son Tyler coach at Louisiana Tech the last two years.
Earlier this year, Summitt moved out of her home into an upscale retirement resort when her regular home underwent renovations.
Summitt is the only person to have two courts used by NCAA Division I basketball teams named in her honor: "Pat Head Summitt Court" at the University of Tennessee-Martin, and "The Summitt" at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She also has two streets named after her: "Pat Summitt Street" on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus and "Pat Head Summitt Avenue" on the University of Tennessee-Martin campus.
She is survived by son Tyler Summitt.
Pat Summitt's rich legacy in women's basketball can be seen on the sidelines and in front offices throughout the college and professional ranks. At the time Summitt ended her illustrious, 38-season coaching career at Tennessee in 2012, 78 people who were mentored by her were coaching basketball or working in administrative positions associated with the game. Four years later, Summitt's coaching tree remains fruitful.
Here's a sampling of current or former college head coaches who have ties to Summitt:
Jody Adams-Birch: She was the starting point guard on Tennessee's 1991 national championship team and played for the Lady Vols from 1990-93. Adams-Birch has been Wichita State's head coach the last eight seasons, leading the Shockers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2013-15.
Jane Albright: A graduate assistant at Tennessee from 1981-83, Albright has a 501-455 record in 32 seasons as a coach, including the last eight at Nevada. She previously coached at Northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Wichita State.
Greg Brown: He worked on Summitt's staff first as a graduate assistant and later as an assistant coach in 2003-04. Brown has been Lipscomb's head coach for the last four seasons.
Niya Butts: She played for Tennessee from 1996-2000 and was a member of the Lady Vols' 1997 and 1998 national championship teams. Butts coached Arizona the last eight seasons and now is an assistant at Kentucky.
Nancy Darsch: After working on Summitt's staffs at Tennessee from 1978-85, Darsch was Ohio State's head coach from 1986-97. She posted a 234-125 record with seven NCAA Tournament berths in 12 seasons, including a championship game appearance in 1993.
Mickie DeMoss: She was a Tennessee assistant from 1985-2003 and from 2010-12. DeMoss was a head coach at Florida (1979-83) and Kentucky (2003-07). She joined Nikki Fargas' staff at LSU earlier this year.
Tonya Edwards: She played for Tennessee from 1986-90 and coached Alcorn State from 2008-15. Edwards was hired in March as an assistant coach with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.
Angel Elderkin: Now the head coach at Appalachian State, Elderkin worked at Tennessee from 2005-07. She had the titles of graduate assistant and video coordinator during her stint with the Lady Vols.
Sharon Fanning: After working as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1975, Fanning posted a 608-457 record in a 36-year head-coaching career that included stops at Chattanooga, Kentucky and Mississippi State. She retired after the 2011-12 season.
Nikki Fargas: When she was known as Nikki Caldwell, Fargas won national titles both as a player (1991) and assistant (2007, 2008) at Tennessee. She has a 165-97 record with six NCAA Tournament appearances in eight seasons as a head coach, first at UCLA and now at LSU.
Stephanie Glance: Glance already had worked as an interim head coach at North Carolina State before working as an assistant on Tennessee's staff from 2009-10. After leaving Tennessee, she coached three seasons at Illinois State and two more at Columbia before stepping down to become executive director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.
Tanya Haave: The Metropolitan State University of Denver head coach played for Tennessee from 1980-84. She has spent the last six seasons in her current job.
Kellie Harper: When she was known as Kellie Jolly, she played on three national championship teams for Tennessee in 1996, 1997 and 1998. Harper has a 223-171 record in 12 seasons as a head coach, including the last three at Missouri State. She has reached the NCAA Tournament with Missouri State, North Carolina State and Western Carolina.
Sylvia Hatchell: This Women's Basketball Hall of Famer was a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1974 and 1975 as Summitt was beginning her coaching career. Hatchell has gone on to win over 700 games in an illustrious head coaching career at North Carolina that includes a 1994 national title and Final Four appearances in 2006 and 2007.
Matthew Mitchell: He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 2000. He owns a 249-118 record in a nine-season tenure at Kentucky that includes three appearances in the regional finals. His staff at Kentucky includes former Tennessee players Niya Butts and Kyra Elzy.
Carolyn Peck: She worked as a Tennessee assistant from 1993-95. Peck later led Purdue to the 1999 national title and also worked as a head coach at Florida and with the WNBA's Orlando Miracle. She just took a new job last month as an associate coach on Stephanie White's staff at Vanderbilt.
Semeka Randall: Randall played for Tennessee from 1997-2001 and was a key performer on the 1998 national championship team that went undefeated. She was a head coach at Ohio from 2008-13 and at Alabama A&M from 2013-16 before taking her current job as a Wright State assistant.
Trish Roberts: After playing for Tennessee in 1976-77, Roberts had head coaching stints at Maine, Michigan, Stony Brook and with the WNBA's Atlanta Glory. She now is the head coach at Agnes Scott.
Tyler Summitt: Pat Summitt's only child spent much of his youth watching Lady Vols practices and games. He played for the Tennessee men's team and was a student assistant with the women's program. He was an assistant at Marquette before getting hired as Louisiana Tech's head coach in 2014 at the age of 23. He stepped down in April after two seasons following an inappropriate relationship.
Heidi VanDerveer: The UC San Diego head coach worked as a graduate assistant at Tennessee from 1986-88. VanDerveer has an 82-37 record in four seasons at UC San Diego.
Holly Warlick: She played for Tennessee and then worked as an assistant on Summitt's staff for 27 seasons before replacing her as the Lady Vols' coach. Warlick has a 108-34 record with three NCAA regional final appearances in her first four seasons.
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