Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, died on Tuesday after a battle with early onset dementia, her foundation said. She was 64. Summitt was a titan of the sports world and a champion for women’s athletics at the collegiate level. Her illustrious career is simply unparalleled. Over nearly four decades as head coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team, Summit compiled 1,098 career wins and led her team to eight national championship titles. She’s the only women’s college basketball coach in history to eclipse 1,000 career victories and is the all-time wins leader of all coaches — men’s or women’s. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and, the next year, into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She retired as coach of the Lady Vols in 2012, a year after receiving a diagnosis of early onset dementia and later that year was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Prior to her coaching career, Summitt was a standout athlete. She served as co-captain of the 1976 women’s USA basketball team, which went on to win a silver medal at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. Eight years later as a head coach, she led team USA to a gold medal at the games in Los Angeles.
Perhaps more impressive than all of her athletic and coaching achievements was her commitment to education, a quality often lost amid the big business and intense competition of college athletics. Summitt’s players did not drop out of college. She boasted 100 percent graduation rate, according to Fox Sports.
Possibly the most succinct and all-encompassing assessment of Summitt’s legacy was uttered in 2011 by Mary Jo Kane, a sports sociologist at the University of Minnesota. According to The New York Times, Kane said at the time, “In modern history, there are two figures that belong on the Mount Rushmore of women’s sports — Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt. No one else is close to third.”
Read the full story at The New York Times.