The incomparable Pat Head Summitt, head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteer basketball team, starts her 34th season at the helm of the nation’s most successful program in 2007-08. A “hoopdom” built tirelessly, diligently and successfully by Summitt, her staff and the 143 student-athletes who have been fortunate enough to don the Orange & White jerseys of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers for over three decades.
Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history (men or women) with 947 victories, enters her latest campaign as the reigning 2007 NCAA Champion. On April 3, 2007, Summitt’s Lady Vols brought home a seventh NCAA basketball title to Knoxville after defeating #2-ranked North Carolina in the semis, 56-50, and #15-ranked Rutgers in the championship game, 59-46.
A brief synopsis of Summitt’s resume goes like this: A consummate taskmaster, she has kept her elite program in the winner’s circle for over three decades, producing a mind-boggling record of 947-180 (.840). During her tenure, the Lady Vols have won seven NCAA titles, as well as a combined 26 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. Tennessee has made an unprecedented 26 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Sweet 16 and produced 12 Olympians, 19 Kodak All-Americans named to 32 teams, and 69 All-SEC performers. Along with the success on the court, Summitt’s student-athletes have tremendous productivity in the classroom. Coach Summitt has a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols who have completed their eligibility at Tennessee.
Through the years, Summitt has reached numerous goals and worn many hats at the University of Tennessee as a student, an educator and a coach. She’ll be the first to tell you that her success is due to the players who have represented Lady Vol basketball since she came on board as the head coach as a 22-year old in 1974. And today, it is still safe to say that she is an educator and role model to her players, a student of the ever-changing game, and one of the most successful women’s basketball coaches in the nation.
In so many ways, she is more than just a coach.
To her athletes, she is just “Pat” from the minute she meets them for the first time on a recruiting visit to the day they walk across the stage in Thompson-Boling Arena to receive their diploma from UT. To the University of Tennessee she is a goodwill ambassador, taking her teams to play basketball in more than 40 states and 11 foreign countries. And the resume she has created along with an outstanding cast of players and staff is amazing — seven NCAA titles, a combined 26 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships, 12 Olympians, 19 Kodak All-Americans named to 32 teams, 69 All-SEC performers, 45 international participants and 39 professional players representing the ABL, WNBA or overseas teams. Thirty-three seasons as a proven winner, champion, master motivator and role model. Who is Pat Head Summitt? She’s an intense, demanding, focused, bright blue steely-eyed competitor who is also a very caring, family-oriented person who enjoys a great walk on the beach with the family dogs, Sally Sue and Sadie, or assembling a good ‘ole southern home-cooked meal for her team.
Her players talk of the opportunities afforded them later in life with a degree in life lessons from Summitt and a diploma from Tennessee. And, of course, there is the incredible graduation rate of her players and the successes they have garnered in life long after their playing days were over at Tennessee. Every Lady Vol who has completed her eligibility at UT has received her degree or is in the process of completing her degree requirements. Summitt instills a pattern of success in her players and constantly challenges them to reach their potential as a student and an athlete.
Incredibly, every Lady Vol hoopster (since 1976) has played in at least one Final Four during her career at Tennessee. There have been three classes of players in Lady Vol history to go to the Final Four all four years of their UT tenure. First to do it was the class of Sheila Frost, Bridgette Gordon and Melissa McCray (1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989) – that trio won NCAA Championships in 1987 and 1989. The next player to do it was Laurie Milligan (1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998). Milligan was onboard for three consecutive titles, 1996-97-98. The latest group to do it was the class of Shyra Ely, Brittany Jackson and Loree Moore – they went in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
On May 22, 2006, UT President Dr. John Petersen and Women’s Athletics Director Joan Cronan awarded Summitt a six-year contract extension. The new agreement elevated her annual total compensation package to $1.125 million in 2006-07 and reaches $1.5 million by the 2011-12 basketball season. It seems only fitting, with all of her firsts and achievements in the game, that Summitt become the first women’s basketball coach to break through the million dollar ceiling.
Summitt may have 1,127 collegiate basketball games under her belt and 947 wins to show for it over three decades, but she never underestimates the potential of her Lady Vol student-athletes who start seasons as believers and by year’s end, she has turned them into achievers. Fifty-three wins separate Summitt from 1,000 career victories. Given her pace of an average of 31.7 wins and only 4.4 losses per season for the past decade, Summitt could reach 1,000 wins in February of 2009.
BIG SUMMITT NUMBERS
(all in 33 seasons as head coach)
OVERALL: 947-180 (.840)
SEC TOURNAMENT TITLES
VS. RANKED TEAMS
SEC COACH OF THE YEAR
NCAA COACH OF THE YEAR
NAISMITH COACH OF THE CENTURY
It seemed only fitting that Summitt broke the most significant record in her coaching career in the NCAA Tournament. On March 22, 2005, in Knoxville, Tenn., she led her Lady Vols past Purdue, 75-54, in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The victory was the 880th of her coaching career, moving her past the legendary Dean Smith of North Carolina (879 victories) as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history.
Summitt earned her most recent 100 wins (800-900) in a span of just three years and four days. Her fastest 100-win total occurred between victories No. 500 and No. 600, which she achieved in only three years and two days. Her toughest set of 100 wins? Victories 200-300 took five years and 32 days to collect. The progression: 1-100 (3 years/32 days), 100-200 (3 years/324 days), 200-300 (5 years/32 days), 300-400 (3 years/21 days), 400-500 (3 years/300 days), 500-600 (3 years/2 days), 600-700 (3 years/12 days), 700-800 (3 years/39 days) and 800-900 (3 years/4 days). In a poll conducted on coaches’ ages and victories, Summitt was found to be the youngest coach in the nation to reach 300 victories (34 years old), 400 victories (37 years old), 500 wins (41 years old), 600 victories (44 years old), 700 wins (47 years old), 800 victories (50 years old) and 900 wins (53 years old).
Sometimes it is truly mind-boggling to realize just what all she has accomplished during her illustrious career.
There are many achievements a coach can garner during her career. Some are lucky enough to hit milestone wins…others are fortunate to grab their conference championship…very few make it to the Big Dance…a select few can be called national championship or Olympic coaches. For others it is developing their players to achieve all-conference, All-America, or for the elite few, WNBA and Olympic status. Then there is the handful of coaching legends who are elected to the Basketball Halls of Fame. During Summitt’s 33-year career at UT, she has achieved each of these plateaus – some of them, more than once.
On her first try, she picked up her 900th collegiate coaching win on Jan. 19, 2006, with a come-from-behind victory over #19-ranked Vanderbilt, 80-68, in Nashville, Tenn. She also collected wins #100, 400, 700 and 800 on the first attempt. Three years earlier, almost to the day, she eclipsed the 800 career victory plateau midway through her 29th season with a 76-57 win over #25/24-ranked DePaul on Jan.14, 2003, in Knoxville. In doing so, she became the first woman in all of NCAA Division I basketball to accomplish such a lofty goal, and she achieved 800 wins faster than any basketball coach, ever. Summitt recorded yet another career milestone on Jan. 22, 2004, when she coached in her 1,000th collegiate game and produced a 79-54 win over Vanderbilt at home.
Summitt stands with recently retired Jody Conradt of Texas on the 900-victory plateau among all NCAA coaches*. In reaching such an elite level, she passed a handful of legendary coaches – Jody Conradt (900-307, .746), Bob Knight (890-363, .710; still active), Dean Smith (879-254, .776), Adolph Rupp (876-190, .822), Don Meyer (862-295, .745; still active), Herb Magee (833-328, .717; still active), Jim Phelan (830-524, .613), Clarence Gaines (828-447, .649) and Jerry Johnson (821-447, .647). *(Gene Bess of NJCAA’s Three Rivers Community College, Poplar Bluff, Mo., is still active with a 1027-270 record; Harry Statham of NAIA’s McKendree College, Lebanon, Ill., is still active with a 938-368 record).
As a prepster, Summitt went to Cheatham County High School, where she went by the name of “Trish” and was voted “Most Popular” and “Basketball Sweetheart.” The gym that she played in as a CCHS Cubette now bears her name.
When Summitt brought her team to play at the University of Tennessee at Martin, on Nov. 23, 1997, her alma mater spent the weekend honoring the Lady Vol coach. UTM designated a street on campus, “Pat Head Summitt Avenue,” and named the basketball court in the Skyhawk Arena, the Pat Head Summitt Court, for their former star player. Summitt’s Lady Vol team christened the newly-named court with a 73-32 victory.
On March 22, 2005, in Knoxville, Tenn., Summitt led her Lady Vols past Purdue, 75-54, in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The victory was the 880th of her coaching career, and it moved her past the legendary Dean Smith of North Carolina (879 victories) as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history. To commemorate her incredible achievement, the University of Tennessee named its basketball court at the Thompson-Boling Arena, “The Summitt,” in a surprise post-game ceremony following the Lady Vols’ win over the Boilermakers.
Time flies when you’re winning. It hardly seems possible that last season, Tennessee celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Lady Vols’ first NCAA title in 1987. When Summitt and her Lady Vols (dubbed the “Corn-fed Chicks”) arrived in Austin, Texas, for the 1987 Final Four, they were the decided underdogs to host Texas, Louisiana Tech and Long Beach State. In just 13 seasons, it marked Summitt’s eighth trip to the Final Four and that time her Lady Vols were ready. After dispatching Long Beach State in the semis, the Lady Vols thumped Louisiana Tech, 67-44, in the title game.
“Well, the monkey’s off my back,” Summitt said at the time. “I do not think I could go without recognizing that it was a tremendous team effort…has been for the last three weeks. This team has played as hard and as smart as I could ask any team to play.”
In that first title game, the Lady Vols built a 33-24 halftime edge and never looked back. Seven minutes into the second half, UT had increased its lead to 14, 47-33, and the rest was history en route to the first NCAA title. A then-championship game record crowd of 9,823 watched rookie Tonya Edwards net 13 points and grab seven rebounds en route to most outstanding player honors. Two additional Lady Vols contributed 13 points – Bridgette Gordon and Sheila Frost. Gordon joined Edwards on the All-Championship Team, as she also led the Tennessee carom parade, pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds.
With one championship banner in the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena, the Lady Vols were hungry for more. After failing to defend their title in 1988, the Lady Vols were back in the title game in 1989 as a battle of the SEC powerhouses ensued – Tennessee versus Auburn for all the marbles in Tacoma, Wash. Although they were up against a Lady Tiger team that had made its second straight national championship final, Tennessee took home its second NCAA Championship in three years with a 76-60 win. Playing in her triumphant final game, All-America forward Bridgette Gordon treated the 9,758 spectators to a spectacular 27-point performance, tying a championship-game record. She also collected 11 boards on the way to most outstanding player honors. Sheila Frost joined Gordon on the All-Championship Team. Playing in her final game at Tennessee, Frost had six points and 12 boards. Also coming up huge for the Lady Vols in the final was rookie Dena Head with 19 points.
Vindication was finally Tennessee’s in the 1991 NCAA women’s final, as the Lady Vols downed a talented Virginia Cavalier club, 70-67, in the first NCAA Final Four overtime title game. Virginia had eliminated Tennessee before it could reach the 1990 Women’s Final Four – which just happened to be held in Knoxville. But the Lady Vols took New Orleans by storm and claimed their third NCAA title in five years.
The first half was tight, with Tennessee holding a paper-thin 27-26 advantage at the intermission. But the Lady Vols opened up a small lead in the second half. Small lead; small comfort. Virginia’s Dawn Staley, who was named the most outstanding player, led the UVA comeback to tie the game at 60 at the end of regulation. But the overtime belonged to Tennessee and Dena Head, who scored a championship record 28 points in the final. Wade Trophy winner, senior Daedra Charles, added 19 points and 12 boards for Tennessee and joined Head on the All-Championship Team. With the victory, the Lady Volunteers kept their streak of odd-year championships going.
It would be five more years before UT hit title pay dirt again. In 1996, it seemed only fitting that the Lady Vols would win another NCAA crown in the “Queen City” of Charlotte, N.C. And it was equally fitting that the Lady Vols’ fourth NCAA title would come over a fierce SEC rival in the Georgia Lady Bulldogs, 83-65.
After surviving an emotionally draining overtime win versus Connecticut in the semifinals, the skeptics wondered if UT would have enough emotional energy left for the title game. It did–and then some. Although Georgia led by two with 14:11 to go in the first half, it would be its only lead in the title contest. In the first three minutes of the second half, UT took off and never looked back. Abby Conklin’s trey (her first of four) with 14:55 left gave UT a 16-point lead, 57-41. The celebrating started early, as the Final Four MVP, Michelle Marciniak, and All-Tournament Team members Chamique Holdsclaw and Tiffani Johnson left the game to wildly cheering fans. A year later, the 1997 Lady Vol team had been through a trying campaign. An HBO documentary crew followed the team all year, filming The Cinderella Season: The Lady Vols Fight Back as Tennessee miraculously made it to the Final Four with a 27-10 record. Despite the rough season, Summitt never stopped believing in that group, and in the end, they came together and accomplished something more highly-touted UT teams never did — they won back-to-back NCAA titles. No team had ever won the NCAA Championship coming in with more than six losses. But proving that it’s wise to save your best for last, Tennessee took its fifth NCAA Championship and second straight title with a 68-59 win over Old Dominion.
“Of all our runs to a championship, this one is really the most unexpected,” said Summitt. “It came from a team with tremendous heart and desire.” In the second half, Old Dominion clawed its way back, taking its first lead at 44-43 with 9:06 left in the game. The Lady Monarchs extended the lead to two, 49-47, before Chamique Holdsclaw led the Lady Vols on a 12-2 run to put the game away for Tennessee. Holdsclaw was a unanimous choice as the most outstanding player, as she poured in 24 points and seven rebounds. Joining Holdsclaw on the All-Championship Team was Kellie Jolly, who only scored five points, but set a championship record with 11 assists in the final game and a Final Four record with 20.
With the win, the Lady Vols earned their fifth national title, played in their seventh championship game and became only the second team to win consecutive championships (Southern Cal, 1983 and 1984).
The 1998 Tennessee Lady Vols will be remembered as history-makers. A perfect 39-0 record and the most wins ever in women’s collegiate basketball…an NCAA unprecedented three consecutive titles…and the systematic blowout night-after-night of the opposition. When the team finally reached the NCAA title game in Kansas City against a dear old rival in Louisiana Tech, Lady Techster coach Leon Barmore called the 1997-98 squad “the greatest team ever to play the game.”
By the halftime break, Tennessee led 55-32 and had registered an NCAA record for the most points scored in a half at the Final Four. Leading the way for UT in game 39 were the Three Meeks – MVP Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall — who collectively tallied 62 points and 25 rebounds in the Lady Vols’ 93-75 victory. Holdsclaw, who scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, won the top player honors in the final game. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Catchings, who recorded 27 points in her first title game, and an honorary “Meek”, Kellie Jolly, who added a career-high 20 points. With the win, the Lady Vols earned their sixth national title, played in their eighth championship game and became the first team to win three consecutive NCAA titles.
From 1999-2006, a total of eight seasons, the Lady Vols advanced to the Final Four five times and came home with three runner-up finishes and two third place spots. The critics were tough…when was Tennessee going to hang another banner? It seemed fitting, on the 20th anniversary of the Lady Vols’ first NCAA title, that Tennessee capture the school’s seventh crown. In a pair of gutsy games, a team known for its high octane performances, pulled out defense, boards and some serious tenacity, to claim the seventh title. The showdown in Cleveland, Ohio, pitted the Lady Vols against #2-ranked North Carolina in the semifinals and a championship game meeting with #15/18-ranked Rutgers.
As the seconds ticked down, Lady Vol sophomore Candace Parker stole the ball from North Carolina’s Alex Miller and the Lady Vols rallied to beat North Carolina 56-50. Tennessee set a Final Four record with 20 steals and outscored the Tar Heels 20-2 over the final 8:08 to earn their 12th trip to the title game.
The Lady Vols captured an elusive seventh national title on April 3, beating Rutgers to the ball for second and third shots in a 59-46 win to reclaim their customary place above all other programs. After building a 16-point lead and then holding off a late push by Rutgers, the Lady Vols could finally celebrate, dribbling out the final 30 seconds.
It came as no surprise when the NCAA celebrated 25 years of NCAA Women’s Championships in 2006 that they would honor Summitt as the Coach of the NCAA Division I Basketball 25th Anniversary Team and former Lady Vols Chamique Holdsclaw and Bridgette Gordon to the five-woman team.
In all of men’s and women’s collegiate basketball history, Summitt trails only UCLA’s legendary coach John Wooden for the most NCAA titles. Wooden grabbed 10 titles in 29 years; Summitt has picked up seven in 33 complete seasons (including the NCAA’s first back-to-back-to-back women’s titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998) to pass Kentucky’s legendary coach, Adolph Rupp. Additionally, Summitt passed Wooden’s NCAA record for Final Four appearances with her 13th in 2002 and now has a total of 17.
In this elite company of the legends — of the top NCAA Champion titleholders — Summitt’s teams have played in and recorded the most NCAA Tournament victories, winning 98 of 117 NCAA contests. Wooden’s Bruins played in 57 NCAA games, winning 47 times, while Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers played in 60 NCAA games, claiming 41 victories through the years. Rupp’s Wildcats won 30 games while making 48 appearances in the “Big Dance.” Summitt a living legend? You bet.
Summitt has led her teams to the Final Four of women’s college basketball (both AIAW and NCAA) 21 times in the last 31 years. Ten of her last 13 teams have advanced to the Final Four, with the 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2007 teams winning the NCAA title. By winning back-to-back-to-back titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998, Tennessee became the first team ever to accomplish that feat in NCAA women’s basketball championship history. In other national finishes at the Final Four, the Lady Vols have finished second seven times and third seven times at the Final Four.
In 1997-98, everything landed perfectly for Summitt. Consider the following: her 24th edition of a Lady Vol basketball team ran the table with a perfect 39-0 record; this group won an unprecedented third consecutive NCAA title; Summitt’s businesslike philosophy of coaching was chronicled in a best-selling book, “Reach for the Summit” and was followed by “Raise the Roof”; Home Box Office (HBO) released a documentary about Summitt’s fifth NCAA Championship team, “A Cinderella Season: The 1997 Lady Vols Fight Back”; and Summitt became the first female coach to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.
When the smoke cleared after the 1997-98 season, there was absolutely no doubt that the best team was Tennessee. A 39-0 campaign, capped off with the program’s sixth national title in 12 years, resulted in hoops analysts and fans everywhere proclaiming the 1997-98 Lady Vols as the best collegiate women’s basketball team of all time.
Summitt’s team didn’t just win games; they dominated opponents, coasting by an average margin of 30.1 points per contest. In the Final Four, where only the nation’s top tournament-tested teams advanced, Tennessee dispatched Arkansas (86-58) and Louisiana Tech (93-75) by an average of 23.0 points. The 39-0 mark, at that time, also gave UT the most wins and best record in the NCAA men’s or women’s basketball history. The Connecticut Huskies tied the Lady Vols record with their 39-0 finish in 2002.
After guiding the Big Orange to those feats and to SEC regular-season title number seven and SEC postseason tourney crown number eight, Summitt was the recipient of a bevy of honors. She was named SEC Coach of the Year for the third time in her career, The Sporting News Coach of the Year and the Naismith Coach of the Year. She was also chosen as the Associated Press Coach of the Year and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year in addition to receiving the Wooden Award, as presented by the Utah Tip-off Club. Furthermore, she was honored as the IKON/WBCA Coach of the Year, the Frontier/State Farm Coach of the Year and the Columbus (OH) Touchdown Club Coach of the Year.
Coach Summitt has worn many hats during her career — both author and subject of books, including “Reach For The Summit,” a motivational publication released in 1998 which made numerous best-seller lists. And “Raise the Roof,” a book that recapped the undefeated 1998 season that was released in October of 1998. “Raise the Roof” was released in paperback in October 1999. Both are now available on audio tapes.
One of the most incredible numbers posted by Summitt over 33 seasons is her record against ranked opponents. Over 47 percent of all games coached by Summitt have come against ranked opponents, with the Lady Vols producing a 382-148 record and a 72 percent winning percentage. Imagine facing a ranked opponent in practically every other game in your career. Summitt has faced this challenge for 33 years, night-in and night-out. Additionally, 95 percent of the time she has faced an unranked opponent, Summitt’s teams have won 565 games and lost just 32 contests.
During her career, she has enjoyed 431 of her wins in the friendly confines of a home arena against just 42 losses for a 91 percent winning mark. On the road, her teams have fashioned a 311-79 mark (.797) and at neutral sites, she is 205-59 (.776).
A quick look at Summitt’s season finishes tells the story: 21 trips to NCAA (17 of 26) and AIAW (4 of 5) Final Fours in the last 31 years; 31 consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins; 17 seasons of 30-plus wins and over the last 14 years alone, Summitt’s teams have collected 12, 30-plus-win campaigns! The year-by-year success of the coach and her teams at Tennessee is evidenced by the numbers … 750-132 (.850) during the regular season, 197-48 (.804) in the postseason, and 947-180 (.840) overall for 33 years. Her worksheets include 16-8, 16-11, 28-5, 27-4, 30-9, 33-5, 25-6, 22-10, 25-8, 23-10, 22-10, 24-10, 28-6, 31-3, 35-2, 27-6, 30-5, 28-3, 29-3, 31-2, 34-3, 32-4, 29-10, 39-0, 31-3, 33-4, 31-3, 29-5, 33-5, 31-4, 30-5, 31-5 and 34-3 records for an average of 28.7 wins and 5.4 losses per season for her career.
In 1998-99, Summitt celebrated her silver anniversary season at Tennessee. Her team finished its campaign with an outstanding 31-3 overall record but fell one game short of the Final Four. The 1999 season also marked the end of Chamique Holdsclaw’s tenure with the Lady Vols. Under Summitt’s guidance and coaching, Holdsclaw set near unmatchable standards not only at Tennessee but in the game of women’s basketball. And true to her word, Holdsclaw graduated in May 1999 (on time) before landing in the WNBA as the league’s top draft pick.
If her exploits of success in the collegiate ranks are not enough for 33 years of coaching, then consider her brilliant international coaching record. In 1977, Summitt was given the first U.S. Junior National Team to coach, and she led it to two gold medals in international play. What makes it so remarkable is that one year earlier Summitt was a player on the U.S. Olympic Team.
Her next international challenge was taking the U.S. National Team to the 1979 William R. Jones Cup Games, the 1979 World Championships and the 1979 Pan American Games. Summitt and her team returned home with two gold medals and one silver medal.
When the Moscow Olympic Games rolled around in 1980, she was honored as the assistant coach to the late Sue Gunter. Although the United States boycotted the Games, the team still captured the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament title.
In August 1982, Summitt was named the 1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic basketball coach, and the rush for the gold was on! She coached the 1983 World Championship team to a silver medal finish; but the silver was not indicative of the team’s play.
The XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles, Calif., found Summitt’s U.S. squad tearing through the opposition by a bundle of points. When the gold medal was a reality, Summitt’s team lifted her high and carried the “All-World” coach around the Los Angeles Forum for all to applaud.
It’s no wonder that on Oct. 13, 2000, she was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., the first time she was eligible for the Hall’s ballot. At the time, Summitt became just the fourth women’s basketball coach to earn Hall of Fame honors when she was inducted with the Class of 2000, which included former NBA greats Isiah Thomas and Bob McAdoo, legendary high school coach Morgan Wootten and contributors C.M. Newton and Danny Biasone. A little more than a year earlier, Summitt was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in the 1999 inaugural class.
Summitt’s achievements are unparalleled in the collegiate coaching ranks. In addition to her inductions into the Halls of Fame, she was named as the Naismith Coach of the Century in April 2000. She was doubly honored when former Lady Vol Chamique Holdsclaw was selected as the Naismith Player of the Century. Prior to those announcements, ESPN selected her program as the “Team of the Decade” (1990s), tying with the Florida State Seminole football machine. In between, two former Lady Vols brought home Olympic gold from the 27th Olympic Games in Sydney as Nikki McCray grabbed her second gold medal (also in 1996) and Chamique Holdsclaw, although injured, registered her first Olympic gold. In 1990, Summitt received the most prestigious award given by the Basketball Hall of Fame, the John Bunn Award. Summitt was the first female to receive the award in the Hall’s history.
In October 1990, Summitt was enshrined in the Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame at a gala event in New York City. In the springs of 1994, 1997 and 1998, Summitt was named the Coach of the Year by the Touchdown Club of Columbus, Ohio, and also was a recipient at the 28th, 32nd and 34th Victor Awards (benefiting the City of Hope) as the Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year in 1994, 1998 and 2000.
In April 1996, she was inducted into the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s Hall of Fame. She was a June 1997 recipient of the Casey Award, which is annually presented by the Kansas City Sports Commission, and a September recipient of the 1997 Governor Ned McWherter Award of Excellence.
Summitt, who was named the 1987, 1989, 1994, 1998 and 2004 Naismith College Coach of the Year, the WBCA/Converse Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1995 and the IKON/WBCA Coach of the Year in 1998, has coached many teams to national and world championships. However, she called the 1987 title her most special victory because of the time and commitment both she and the University of Tennessee had given to each other.
Earning Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year honors has almost been tougher to acquire than the national accolades. In 27 years of SEC play, Summitt’s teams have produced a 379-57 (.869) record and captured a combined 26 SEC titles (14 SEC Championships and 12 SEC Tournament Championships). Despite her success, she has only been named SEC Coach of the Year seven times – 1993, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007.
A celebrated figure in women’s athletics, Summitt is busy off the court as well. This past summer, she was recognized as the 2007 Dick Enberg Award winner by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Established in 1997, the Dick Enberg Award is given annually to a person whose actions and commitment have furthered the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America Teams Program and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics. At the ESPYs, her 2006-07 Tennessee Lady Vols (34-3) won two awards at the 15th annual event, both marking their national championship. The team was named best women’s collegiate team and also won the Under Armour Undeniable Award for best women’s collegiate team.
In December 2003, she was appointed to the Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History / Behring Center. In May 2003, she was honored at GALA XVI as a Woman of Distinction at the biennial event. In February 1997, she was honored at a White House luncheon given by former First Lady Hillary Clinton recognizing the “25 Most Influential Working Mothers” as selected by Working Mother magazine. In 1996, she co-chaired the United Way Campaign in Knoxville. She gave hundreds of speeches and logged incredible amounts of time visiting the various United Way agencies while recruiting, running camps and continuing to direct the most successful program in the nation. Away from the game she has been involved in a number of community activities. Most recently she became the spokesperson for Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program. HopeLine collects used wireless phones to be recycled or sold and donates the proceeds to nonprofit domestic violence advocacy organizations or uses the proceeds to purchase handsets for victims. At no cost to the recipients, the phones are pre-programmed with numbers such as 9-1-1.
Additionally, she is an active spokesperson for the United Way, The Race for the Cure and Juvenile Diabetes. She has been a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and was the honorary chair for the Tennessee Easter Seal Society in 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1989. She is still active as an alumna with the Chi Omega sorority. In 1994, she served as the Tennessee chair of the American Heart Association. In January 1996, she was named “Distinguished Citizen of the Year” by the Great Smoky Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Lupus Foundation also bestowed an award on Summitt in the winter of 1996. In May 1997, Proffitt’s and the Tennessee Lung Association presented her the “Tennessee Woman of Distinction Award”.
She has been honored as one of the WISE 1999 Women of the Year, the 1999 ARETE Award for Courage in Sports, as one of Glamour magazine’s “1998 Women of the Year,” and the City of Knoxville’s “1998 Woman of the Year.” At the February 1999 and 2000 ESPY Awards, she was nominated for Coach of the Year (won by Joe Torre of the N.Y. Yankees) and Team of the Year (won also by the Bronx Bombers). At the 2000 ESPYs, her Lady Vols were chosen as “Team of the Decade”, tying for the honor with the Florida State football team.
Additionally, she holds or has held the following positions: current associate athletics director at the University of Tennessee; a past vice-president of USA BASKETBALL; past Olympic representative on the Advisory Committee to USA BASKETBALL; a member of the Board of Trustees of the Basketball Hall of Fame; and a member of the Board of Directors for the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, commencement speaker, color commentator for network television, clinician and contributor to a film series.
Any one of these accomplishments would be considered a lifetime achievement for any coach. However, for Summitt, it is more typical of how life has become. Because these days, Summitt’s name has become fused in the same sentence as coaching great John Wooden, or joined to the accomplishments of some of the sports’ greatest dynasties, the Chicago Bulls and the New York Yankees.
To the CEO of a corporation whose morale needs a lift, she is the perfect motivational speaker – in the past few years she has traveled extensively making motivational speeches to everyone from the Central Intelligence Agency to Victoria’s Secret to Federal Express to the Federal Reserve Board.
In the summer of 2002, she added WNBA consultant to her vitae as she assisted the Washington Mystics with player personnel and the draft. Not surprisingly, the Mystics earned their first-ever WNBA playoff berth in the summer of 2003 and repeated again in 2004. Summitt stepped aside of her consulting efforts in 2005.
How Pat Came to Knoxville
Success and accomplishment have always followed Pat Summitt. The folks at the University of Tennessee-Martin thought she was better than pretty good when she enrolled at the west Tennessee university to play basketball and volleyball.
By the time Summitt graduated from UT-Martin in 1974, she symbolized the prototype player of the decades to come. She was strong … had great instincts … was awesome on defense … took a charge like a greedy housewife … denied the ball all over the court … rebounded with authority … took the ball to the hoop … and then could knock the lights out over a zone defense.
In 1973, she made her first U.S. national team when she represented the United States at the World University Games in the Soviet Union. She returned to UT-Martin for her senior season with loftier goals, such as making the 1976 Olympic team. However, four games into her final season as a Lady Pacer, she suffered a near career-ending knee injury.
She was determined to get the knee back into shape and try out for the Olympic Games, but not many people gave her a chance. The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, though, showed its confidence in her abilities as a coach when the school offered her a graduate teaching assistantship and the reins to the women’s intercollegiate basketball team as a 22-year-old. The position suited her needs to a “T” — she could pursue her career and stay close to basketball as she rehabilitated her knee.
The late Helen B. Watson, the former chairperson of UT’s Physical Education Department, can be credited for bringing a young Pat Head to Knoxville. Watson asked Head to coach the Tennessee women’s team in a letter dated April 30, 1974, when Head was a 21-year old senior at UT-Martin. In her letter, Watson wrote, “we have an excellent potential team, and I believe that they would be happy to have you as their coach.”
At the time, Head was being courted as the assistant coach who would also serve as a graduate teaching assistant in the Physical Education Department at UT while she pursued her master’s degree. An enthusiastic Head accepted the position. Imagine her shock two weeks later when Watson called back and informed Head that the women’s basketball coach, Margaret Hutson, had decided to take a sabbatical and Tennessee was offering her the job as head coach. Head, who had never run a practice or made out a practice plan or schedule, said she really contemplated her decision because as she put it, “I was absolutely overwhelmed and scared to death.”
Patricia Sue Head arrived in Knoxville as the new head coach and was practically the same age as the seniors on her team. A little shy at the time, she never corrected Dr. Helen B. Watson or Dr. Nancy Lay, her mentors in the UT Physical Education Department, when they shortened Patricia to Pat, assuming that’s the name she went by. Head never mentioned to them that she had gone by Tricia or Trish her whole life.
In her first year as a collegiate coach, she led her team to a 16-8 overall record, attended classes as a master’s degree candidate, taught physical education classes and stayed in playing shape. As the summer of 1975 approached, she thought the knee was ready for a big test. The knee held and so did Summitt — held, that is, a spot on the U.S. Women’s World Championship team and the 1975 Pan American Games team.
After another summer of international experience, she returned home to coach her Lady Vols to a 16-11 record, a second-place finish in the state tournament and a spot for herself on the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team. Playing on the Olympic Team in Montreal at the Games of the XXI Olympiad was the high point of her competitive playing career, as she helped lead the United States to a silver medal finish while serving as the team’s co-captain.
Little did she know at the time but those first two Lady Vol teams — with just 16 wins each — would be the only ones not to record at least 20 wins in a season during her tenure as head coach.
and Sister to Tommy, Charles, Kenneth and Linda
“My parents taught me a long time ago that you win in life with people,” Summitt said. “And that’s important, because if you hang with winners, you stand a great chance of being a winner.”
Patricia Sue Head Summitt was born on June 14, 1952, in Henrietta, Tenn., the daughter of Richard and Hazel Albright Head. She was the fourth of five children – Tommy, Charles, Kenneth and Linda — and the first girl. Growing up on the family farm, her late father (he passed away on Oct. 23, 2005) was a no-nonsense disciplinarian. Hard work was the norm from sunrise to sundown and all five children had a variety of chores assigned to them daily. As a youngster, her time was consumed with school work, farm chores, and playing basketball in the hayloft with her brothers. She could chop tobacco, plow a field and bale hay with the best of them. Hard work was the backbone of the Head family success, but being a good student was just as important – “Trish” never missed a day of school from kindergarten through high school.
Becoming a mother in 1990, her story of going into labor on a recruiting trip to Michelle Marciniak’s home is legendary. With her water broken, she still completed the recruiting visit in Macungie, Pa., and then flew home to Knoxville, urging the pilots not to stop so her son would be born in Tennessee. Along with her 16-year old son, Ross “Tyler” Summitt, and mother-daughter yellow Labrador retrievers, Sally-Sue and Sadie, they enjoy living in the family compound along the banks of the Tennessee River. Despite her busy schedule, Summitt catches as many of Tyler’s high school basketball games as possible and coached his 2007 AAU basketball team. She spends her get-away time at the beach or relaxing by the pool. She also enjoys cooking, golf, running, water and snow skiing, and boating.
THE SUMMITT FILE
AS HEAD COACH: Overall record of 947-180 in 33 years, all at Tennessee. International coaching record is 63-4 for a complete coaching record of 1010-184.
BEFORE UTK: Summitt was a student-athlete at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: Played at Cheatham County H.S. (Ashland City, Tenn.), 1967-70, where she was a four-year starter and was named as a TSSAA All-District 20 Tournament selection in 1970; at UT-Martin, 1970-74, she led the Lady Pacers to a 64-29 record, two trips to the national championship tournament (1972 and 1973) and graduated as UT-M’s all-time leading scorer (1,045 points). She was the co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team (silver medal), 1975 World Championship Team, 1975 U.S. National Team to Taiwan, 1975 Pan American Games Team (gold medal), and the 1973 U.S. World University Games Team (silver medal).
PERSONAL INFORMATION: Patricia Sue Head Summitt, age 55, born June 14, 1952; graduated from Cheatham County High School, Ashland City, Tenn., 1970; received B.S. in physical education from UT-Martin, 1974; received M.S. in physical education from UT-Knoxville, 1975; has a son by the name of Ross Tyler Summitt, born Sept. 21, 1990; home is Knoxville, Tenn.
PAT SUMMITT’S 33-YEAR COACHING RECORD AT TENNESSEE
|1976-77||20-3||8-2||28-5||3rd Final Four|
|1977-78||22-2||5-2||27-4||1st AIAW Poll|
|1978-79||22-7||8-2||30-9||3rd Final Four|
|1979-80||25-3||8-2||33-5||2nd Final Four|
|1980-81||16-5||9-1||25-6||2nd Final Four|
|1981-82||17-8||5-2||22-10||3rd Final Four|
|1982-83||21-6||4-2||25-8||2nd NCAA Regional|
|1983-84||19-8||4-2||23-10||2nd Final Four|
|1984-85||18-9||4-1||22-10||3rd NCAA Regional|
|1985-86||21-8||3-2||24-10||3rd Final Four|
|1987-88||25-2||6-1||31-3||3rd Final Four|
|1989-90||23-4||4-2||27-6||2nd NCAA Regional|
|1991-92||24-2||4-1||28-3||3rd NCAA Regional|
|1992-93||27-1||2-2||29-3||2nd NCAA Regional|
|1993-94||26-1||5-1||31-2||3rd NCAA Regional|
|1994-95||27-1||7-2||34-3||2nd Final Four|
|1998-99||25-2||6-1||31-3||2nd NCAA Regional|
|1999-00||25-3||8-1||33-4||2nd Final Four|
|2000-01||28-1||3-2||31-3||3rd NCAA Regional|
|2001-02||24-3||5-2||29-5||3rd Final Four|
|2002-03||26-3||7-2||33-5||2nd Final Four|
|2003-04||25-2||6-2||31-4||2nd Final Four|
|2004-05||23-4||7-1||30-5||3rd Final Four|
|2005-06||25-4||6-1||31-5||2nd NCAA Regional|