Legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt passes away

June 28, 2016

Pat Summitt, enshrined as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000, has passed away at the age of 64.  Summitt had been suffering from early onset dementia.

“Pat Summitt’s impact on the game of basketball extends far beyond the hardwood – she changed the culture of the game,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “Her work ethic, passion and level of excellence were unmatched and she raised the bar for the women’s game in every aspect. There can never be another Pat Summitt, but those who have been inspired by her will continue to spread her love of the game.”

During her 38 seasons as head coach at the University of Tennessee, Pat Summitt created a legacy of success and integrity unparalleled in women's basketball. Named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000, Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight national championships. Her Lady Vols dominated the 1990s with four NCAA national championships and a perfect 39-0 record during the 1997-98 season.

“I’m deeply saddened by what has happened to Pat Summitt," said Dawn Staley, Hall of Fame Class of 2013.  "I’ve been a fan of hers and the way she so passionately and profoundly led our game. I can’t think of anyone whose footsteps I would want to follow other than hers. She has passed the torch to all who coach; it’s now our turn to make her proud.”

In total, Summitt coached Tennessee to 1,098 wins and retired as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I history. Summitt also coached the U.S. Olympic team to gold in 1984. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“As the all time winningest coach in NCAA Division I history, Pat Summitt will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest coaches of all time,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board and Chairman of USA Basketball’s Board of Directors. “She left her mark on the game as both a player and coach, winning silver and gold medals in the Olympic games in those respective roles. Nonetheless, we all know Pat Summitt was most proud of her players and what she was able to help them accomplish both on and off the court.”

WNBA President Lisa Borders released the following statement regarding the passing of Pat Summitt:
“A true coaching legend, Pat Summitt rewrote the NCAA record books and left an indelible mark on sports.  Even more than her incredible achievements on the basketball court, her legacy will be her passion for her sport and her commitment to inspiring the next generation of young athletes.  All of us at the WNBA send our deepest sympathies to the Summitt family and Volunteers everywhere.”

Additional comments from Basketball Hall of Famers included the following:

“We don’t have a long history in women’s basketball; the history before Tennessee and before Pat Summitt was kind of checkered because there wasn’t a lot of media attention. There wasn’t a lot of interest in the game. There wasn’t a lot of support from universities. So it is a short history, and during that short history, there’s one person for a long time, nobody else was even in that category. There was no competition among coaches; there was only Pat Summitt. Nobody else. Other people took their turn at getting their 15 minutes of fame, but when people talked about women’s college basketball in America, it was Pat Summitt and Tennessee. When you get on the cover of Time Magazine… When is the last time a women’s team coach got on the cover of Time Magazine? It doesn’t happen. So for that to happen, it is saying a lot. Our sport is synonymous with Pat Summitt and Pat Summitt is synonymous with women’s basketball.” – Geno Auriemma, Class of 2006
“My 30-plus year friendship with Pat Summitt is one I will always cherish, especially in a business that doesn’t always breed genuine friendship. When I think of women’s basketball, I instantly think of Pat Summitt because she’s truly synonymous with women’s basketball. It was evident, even in her early coaching years, that she’d leave her footprints on our game. Her passion, her fire, her love and knowledge of the game, put her in an elite class of coaches. In the coaching profession, one is judged by her victories and Pat’s teams certainly won a ton of games. But when I think about her greatest impact, I think about the young women she coached and mentored, and how fortunate they were to have Pat as a leader and coach.” - Jody Conradt, Class of 1998

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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