Legendary coach Pat Summitt passed away Tuesday. (Randy Sartin/USA Today Sports)
Former University of Tennessee coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Pat Summitt passed away Tuesday morning after a lengthy battle with early onset dementia. She was 64.
Her son, Tyler Summitt, released a statement Tuesday revealing his mother died peacefully at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville, Tennessee surrounded by loved ones.
“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,” Tyler Summitt said. “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.”
The winningest coach in Division I history, Summitt tallied 1,098 wins and eight national championships in her 38 seasons as head coach of the Lady Vols. She left the team in 2012 after announcing she had early onset dementia in 2011.
A pioneer for women’s basketball, Summitt became head coach at Tennessee in 1974 when the NCAA didn’t recognize the sport. Her accomplishments and success helped women’s basketball garner national attention and gave the sport a new spotlight.
Even after retiring in 2012, she continued to work with Tennessee student-athletes while working with the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, with proceeds going to cutting-edge research. She received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at ESPN’s ESPY Awards in 2012, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama that same year.
“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,” Tyler Summitt said. “She was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure.”