Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in U.S. college basketball history, man or woman, died June 28 at the age of 64.
She uplifted women’s basketball from obscurity to national prominence during her 38-year career at the University of Tennessee. She led the “Lady Vols” to eight national championships and prominence before retiring in 2012.
Summitt had announced in 2011, at age 59, that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia.
She has been called an “Influential Figure of Title IX,” referring to the 1972 U.S. law that bans gender-based discrimination in schools. The law has hugely benefited women’s sports.
Title IX requires schools that receive federal funding to provide both sexes with equal opportunities to participate in sports. It also requires schools to treat male and female teams equally in terms of access to coaches, facilities and other resources.
President Obama said Summitt “outworked her rivals, made winning an attitude, loved her players like family, and became a role model to millions of Americans.”
"Remembering Pat Summitt, the singular coach who transformed women's basketball" https://t.co/0awbCrcp2y
— TIME (@TIME) June 28, 2016
Summitt never had a losing record.
Peyton Manning, a retired U.S. professional football player, said she “could have coached any team, any sport, men’s or women’s. It wouldn’t have mattered because Pat could flat-out coach.” Manning had sought Summitt’s advice about returning to Tennessee for his senior season or going professional to the National Football League.
In 2013, Summitt was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Much earlier she was the co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, which won the silver medal.