Pat SummittView 30 Photos
We have lost one of the greatest Tennesseans of all time.
Summitt's year-by-year record
1976-77: 28-5 (AIAW semifinals)
1977-78: 27-4 (AIAW regional first round)
1978-79: 30-9 (AIAW semifinals)
1979-80: 33-5 (AIAW runner-up)
1980-81: 25-6 (AIAW runner-up)
1981-82: 22-10 (NCAA semifinals)
1982-83: 25-8 (NCAA regional final)
1983-84: 23-10 (NCAA runner-up)
1984-85: 22-10 (NCAA regional semifinal)
1985-86: 24-10 (NCAA semifinal)
1986-87: 28-6 (NCAA champion)
1987-88: 31-3 (NCAA semifinal)
1988-89: 35-2 (NCAA champion)
1989-90: 27-6 (NCAA regional final)
1990-91: 30-5 (NCAA champion)
1991-92: 28-3 (NCAA regional semifinal)
1992-93: 29-3 (NCAA regional final)
1993-94: 31-2 (NCAA regional semifinal)
1994-95: 34-3 (NCAA runner-up)
1995-96: 32-4 (NCAA champion)
1996-97: 29-10 (NCAA champion)
1997-98: 39-0 (NCAA champion)
1998-99: 31-3 (NCAA regional final)
1999-2000: 33-4 (NCAA runner-up)
2000-01: 31-3 (NCAA regional semifinal)
2001-02: 29-5 (NCAA semifinal)
2002-03: 33-5 (NCAA runner-up)
2003-04: 31-4 (NCAA runner-up)
2004-05: 30-5 (NCAA champion)
2005-06: 31-5 (NCAA regional final)
2006-07: 34-3 (NCAA champion)
2007-08: 36-2 (NCAA champion)
2008-09: 22-11 (NCAA first round)
2009-10: 32-3 (NCAA regional semifinal)
2010-11: 34-3 (NCAA regional final)
2011-12: 27-9 (NCAA regional final)
The words leaving Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam's lips were as emphatic and powerful as one of Pat Summitt's piercing stares.
"We have lost one of the greatest Tennesseans of all time," he said in a video message framing the 64-year-old Summitt's death Tuesday morning due to complications from Alzheimer's.
One of the greatest. One of the most accomplished. One of the most ethical. And, quite possibly, the most beloved.
Or as President Barack Obama pointed out Tuesday: "She was a proud Tennessean who, when she went into labor while on a recruiting visit, demanded the pilot return to Knoxville so her son could be born in her home state."
"It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt," said that son, Tyler Summitt, in a statement released by the university at 6:11 a.m. Tuesday. "She died peacefully this morning 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. 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 first learned she had Alzheimer's in the summer of 2011. With the help of current Lady Vols coach Holly Warlick, she coached the 2011-12 season, then retired to focus her attention fully on battling the disease.
That courage and commitment resulted in the Pat Summitt Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars to fight Alzheimer's, as well as partnering with the UT Medical Center to build the Pat Summitt Alzheimer's Clinic to help the 160,000 Tennesseans who are expected to struggle with the disease by 2025.
"We shared a lot of years working together and spreading the word about Tennessee athletics," said former UT football coach Phil Fulmer, whose mother suffers from Alzheimer's. "Her legacy as a basketball coach is iconic, but her greatest legacy may well be through the Pat Summitt Foundation and her role in leading the battle against Alzheimer's."
"Coach Summitt saved her best work for her final opponent, staring down early onset dementia as only she could, courageously sharing her battle with the public so that millions of people could join her huddle and work as a team toward finding a cure for such a terrible disease," added University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic director David Blackburn, who worked with Summitt for more than two decades in his various roles within the Big Orange athletic department.
Summitt earned her place in the basketball history books as the Lady Vols head coach from 1974-2012, when her teams won 1,098 games — the most victories for a men's or women's coach at the Division I level — and eight national championships, including three straight from 1996-98. That total is surpassed only by the 11 titles won by University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma.
She was named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in 2000, and The Sporting News ranked her at No. 11 on its list of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time for all sports — the only woman to make the list. The court inside UT's Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville is named "The Summitt" in her honor. The university erected a bronze statue of her on campus in 2013. The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is located in Knoxville because of Summitt, who was a charter member.
"It would have been a great experience to play for her," said former UT football quarterback Peyton Manning in a statement. "She could have coached any team, any sport, men's or women's. It wouldn't have mattered because Pat could flat out coach."
Yet despite winning 16 Southeastern Conference regular-season titles and 16 SEC tournament titles, with the Lady Vols reaching every NCAA tournament from its inception in 1982 until her retirement, as well as coaching in 18 Final Fours, Summitt valued her players most.
"You win in life with people," she liked to say, and people always came first with her, especially the 161 players she coached.
"She'll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many," her son said. "She was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure."
That tenure ended on April 18, 2012, when Summitt officially became head coach emeritus and Warlick was named her successor.
Yet, as former UT women's athletic director Joan Cronan said Tuesday, "I worked with Pat for over 30 years. People would refer to me as her boss and I always remarked, 'Pat Summitt has no boss.' She was the ultimate leader. Her players, who all have college degrees, have been enriched by her teaching. They are coaches, professors, television personalities, businesswomen, all now making a difference in their world because of Pat Summitt."
And it wasn't just her players. As Manning noted of his decision to stay for his senior season rather than depart early for the NFL draft: "She was one of the people I consulted with following my junior year when I was deciding whether to turn pro early or stay in college. She gave me some very valuable advice during that time."
Summitt's final five years of life were spent attempting to give valuable advice to the rest of the world regarding Alzheimer's.
"Pat did far more than win eight national championships: She changed the lives of the young women she coached, she showed us the measure of a real champion and her fight against Alzheimer's set an example for us all," U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., noted in a statement. "It's hard for people outside Tennessee to understand just how much Pat Summitt became a part of the lives of so many citizens in our state."
A native of Clarksville, Tenn., Summitt was a graduate of UT-Martin, where she played basketball, though her family paid her tuition because there were no athletic scholarships for women at that time. She was a co-captain on the first U.S. women's national basketball team in 1976, winning a silver medal, and eight years later, she coached the U.S. team to Olympic gold, becoming the first U.S. Olympian to medal as both an athlete and coach.
Just before the 1974-75 season, before women's college basketball was an NCAA-sanctioned sport, a 22-year-old Summitt became a graduate assistant at UT. She was named head coach of the Lady Vols when the previous coach quit suddenly. Her monthly coaching salary was $250, with responsibilities that included washing the players' uniforms. Four of her players were just one year younger than she was at the time.
In a February 2009 interview with Time magazine, Summitt recalled her early coaching days, saying, "I had to drive the van, and one time, for a road game, we actually slept in the other team's gym the night before (a game). We had mats; we had our little sleeping bags."
To illustrate how much Summitt helped change the game during her career, she was earning $8,900 a year in 1976, when Kentucky attempted to lure her from UT with a raise of $100 to $9,000. She declined, telling the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1998: "I'm not sure, when it got right down to it, I would have ever left Tennessee. It's hard to leave home."
She was 11 years removed from her first NCAA title at that point. She was weeks removed from her 1997-98 team finishing 39-0, with only three of those 39 opponents staying within 10 points of the Lady Vols on their way to an 18-point win over Louisiana Tech in the championship game.
She would coach 14 more seasons, win two more national championships and wind up earning more than $1 million a year, but within her home state she was always so much more than a basketball coach.polls here 3634
"It is a very sad day on Rocky Top," UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek declared.
"Basketball has lost a legend, and Tennessee has lost one of its most beloved daughters," said former Chattanooga Mayor Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. "I join all Tennesseans today in celebrating her life and extend my thoughts and prayers to her son, Tyler, the Lady Vol family, and all those who were touched by her remarkable life."
"There will never be another Pat Summitt," added Cronan. "She belongs to the ages now, and we are sad but so fortunate to have called her a colleague and friend."
Summitt is survived by her mother, Hazel Albright Head; son, Ross "Tyler" Summitt (AnDe); sister, Linda; and brothers, Tommy (Deloris), Charles (Mitzi) and Kenneth (Debbie).
A private service and burial for family and friends will be held in Middle Tennessee. A public service honoring Summitt will take place at 7 p.m. July 14 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Pat Summitt Foundation by visiting www.patsummitt.org/donate.
Staff writer Stephen Hargis contributed to this story.
Contact staff writer Mark Wiedmer at email@example.com.
God doesn't take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to make room for other things. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.
In her own words: Memorable Pat Summitt quotes
"I won 1,098 games, and eight national championships, and coached in four different decades. But what I see are not the numbers. I see their faces."
"Here's how I'm going to beat you. I'm going to outwork you. That's it. That's all there is to it."
"You can't always be the most talented person in the room. But you can be the most competitive."
"Players don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
"When you grow up on a dairy farm, cows don't take a day off. So you work every day and my dad always said, 'No one can outwork you.'"
"We do not win championships with girls. We win with competitors"
"If I ain't happy, nobody's happy."
"Teamwork is what makes common people capable of uncommon results."
"I remember every player — every single one — who wore the Tennessee orange, a shade that our rivals hate, a bold, aggravating color that you can usually find on a roadside crew, 'or in a correctional institution,' as my friend Wendy Larry jokes. But to us the color is a flag of pride, because it identifies us as Lady Vols and therefore as women of an unmistakable type. Fighters. I remember how many of them fought for a better life for themselves. I just met them halfway."
"Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself."
"There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts."
"Silence is a form of communication, too. Sometimes less is more."
"I want to continue to do is to help these young women be successful. You don't just say goodbye at the end of their playing careers and end it there."
"The absolute heart of loyalty is to value those people who tell you the truth, not just those people who tell you what you want to hear. In fact, you should value them most. Because they have paid you the compliment of leveling with you and assuming you can handle it."
"I'm not sure, when it got right down to it, I would have ever left Tennessee. It's hard to leave home."
"You win in life with people."
"You can't pick and choose the days that you feel like being responsible. It's not something that disappears when you're tired."
"If I'm not leading by example, then I'm not doing the right thing. And I want to always do the right thing."
"Most people get excited about games, but I've got to be excited about practice, because that's my classroom."
"There is always someone better than you. Whatever it is that you do for a living, chances are, you will run into a situation in which you are not as talented as the person next to you. That's when being a competitor can make a difference in your fortunes."
"Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you're never wrong?"
"Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work."
"Attitude is a choice. What you think you can do, whether positive or negative, confident or scared, will most likely happen."
President Barack Obama on Pat Summitt
Nobody walked off a college basketball court victorious more times than Tennessee's Pat Summitt. For four decades, she outworked her rivals, made winning an attitude, loved her players like family, and became a role model to millions of Americans, including our two daughters. Her unparalleled success includes never recording a losing season in 38 years of coaching, but also, and more importantly, a 100 percent graduation rate among her players who completed their athletic eligibility. Her legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat's intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder, and live with courage on and off the court. As Pat once said in recalling her achievements, "What I see are not the numbers. I see their faces."
Pat learned early on that everyone should be treated the same. When she would play basketball against her older brothers in the family barn, they didn't treat her any differently and certainly didn't go easy on her. Later, her Hall of Fame career would tell the story of the historic progress toward equality in American athletics that she helped advance. Pat started playing college hoops before Title IX and started coaching before the NCAA recognized women's basketball as a sport. When she took the helm at Tennessee as a 22-year-old, she had to wash her players' uniforms; by the time Pat stepped down as the Lady Vols' head coach, her teams wore eight championship rings and had cut down nets in sold-out stadiums.
Pat was a patriot who earned Olympic medals for America as a player and a coach, and I was honored to award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was a proud Tennessean who, when she went into labor while on a recruiting visit, demanded the pilot return to Knoxville so her son could be born in her home state. And she was an inspiring fighter. Even after Alzheimer's started to soften her memory, and she began a public and brave fight against that terrible disease, Pat had the grace and perspective to remind us that "God doesn't take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly."
Michelle and I send our condolences to Pat Summitt's family – which includes her former players and fans on Rocky Top and across America.