Who was Pat Summitt? In 2016, Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt passed away after a long battle with early onset Alzheimers. She was a pioneer in women’s college basketball, leading the Tennessee Volunteers to 8 national titles and 1,098 victories—the most in Division I college basketball history (men or women). Here are a few more things to know about the legendary Pat Summitt.
The pioneer. Summitt was one of the earliest faces of women’s sports and she helped prove that they could succeed. In the early days coaching the Tennessee’s women’s team, Summitt made just $8,900 per year and fought with physical education classes for practice space in a multiuse gymnasium. Of course, she was also multitasking—coaching the team the while earning her master’s degree and training for the Olympic team.
The leader. Summitt was widely regarded as one of the toughest coaches in college basketball history, men's or women's. She was best known for giving her players an icy stare in response to poor play, and it worked. In 38 seasons as a coach she never had a losing season. Tennessee once asked Summitt to consider coaching the men's team, but she responded “Why is that considered a step up?”
The Volunteer. Pat Summitt’s name is nearly synonymous with Tennessee. One of the best anecdotes that shows her love for her state was when she went into labor while on a recruiting trip. She insisted on flying home to have her baby in Knoxville. Her son Tyler Summitt also went on to play basketball for Tennessee and tried to follow in her footsteps with a (short-lived and disgraced) women’s basketball coaching career.