Pat Summitt, legendary former basketball coach at the University of Tennessee dies at 64-years-old.
Pat Summitt died Tuesday morning of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Summitt was diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type in 2011, and stepped down from her role as head coach at the University of Tennessee a year later.
Summit led the Lady Vols to a 1, 098-208 record with eight national titles from 1974 to 2012.
Her legendary career began when she accepted the head coach position at Tennessee at just 22-years-old. Two years later, she was named an assistant captain for the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, and took over head coaching reins in 1984. Under her coaching, the American women went undefeated and won their first-ever gold medal.
Three years later, Summitt’s Lady Vols won the first of their eight national championships. Summitt was an eight-time SEC Coach of the Year and a seven-time NCAA Coach of the Year. These are just two of the many awards she was presented with throughout her 38-year career. She was also honored with the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award a civilian can win in the U.S.
Summit’s record and legacy are among some of the very best in American sports history, and she belongs in the company of coaching giants like Vince Lomardi and Bear Bryant.
Summitt became one of the most noticeable and effective faces of women’s college sports. The UT program under her produced some of the most preeminent players in women’s basketball history like, Tamika Catchings, Candace Parker, and Chamique Holdsclaw.
After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Summitt cut back on her coaching duties and eventually retired the role of head coach. She would visit team practices and serve as a visible presence on the sidelines during games.
Summitt launched The Pat Summitt Foundation in November 2011 to help bring awareness and research to bear against Alzheimer’s. The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic is set to open at the University os Tennessee later this year.
Our hearts go out to Summitt’s friends and family. Her legacy will always be remembered.