Battling Alzeimer’s and early onset dementia for over four years, she changed not only the sport of basketball at Tennessee but the lives of so many women and men
On the same day that former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator (1978-1985) and architect of the legendary 46 defense who would later become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (1986-1990) and Arizona Cardinals (1993-94) Buddy Ryan lost his life at 85, the legendary head coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers Pat Summitt lost her battle with Alzeimer’s. She was 64.
The 1,098 career victories, 18 Final Four appearances, 7 NCAA national titles to go along with 16 SEC regular season and conference tournament titles barely scratch the surface when we talk about her career.
Starting the program from the ground-up in 1974, where she would be doing the team laundry and lobbying the administration to get a big enough gym to play. Keep in mind that this all happened a few years after Title IX became law and a few years before the NCAA recognized women’s basketball as a sport.
In 1976, she would help win a silver medal at the Montreal Olympics and in 1984, she helped coach Team USA to gold in Los Angeles.
Even with the hundreds and thousands of lives she touched both on and off the court, the tireless work of the Pat Summitt Foundation will continue on to help fight this dreaded disease.
Josh Elliott and Dana Jacobson of CBS discuss the impact she leaves behind and her legendary place in history:
One quote from Pat that struck me the most was this one:
“They don’t care how much you know until you know how much you care.”
Yes, her teams had double digit wins every year that she coached and never suffered a losing season. However, former Tennessee men’s coach (and current Auburn coach who happens to be the brother-in-law of Liz Claman, popular anchor/reporter for the Fox Business Network) Bruce Pearl went so far as to say:
“They were the Dallas Cowboys of women’s basketball.”
Even recent retired NFL legend and one-time Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning released this statement on Tuesday about how profound a person Pat Summitt truly was before relying on her counsel so Manning could stay one final season in school before entering the NFL Draft:
“She could have coached any team, any sport, men’s or women’s. It wouldn’t have mattered because Pat could flat out coach. I will miss her dearly, and I am honored to call her my friend. My thoughts and prayers are with Tyler and their entire family.”
Her overall record was 1,098-208 in a career than spanned the years 1974 through 2012, the year after she first contracted this debilitating disease.
She will be missed tremendously in Knoxville where 181 players persevered and succeeded as Lady Volunteers, and throughout the entire world that is college basketball. A Celebration of Life is planned for Thursday, July 14 at Thompson-Boling Arena inside Pat Summitt Court–which is free and open to the public.