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Tennessee coach Pat Summit dies as greatest women’s coach of all time

Posted by Betonline team on 6/30/2016 5:30:38 AM
Tennessee coach Pat Summit dies as greatest women’s coach of all time

The John Wooden of women’s basketball was both outlandish and simple.

Pat Summit simply wanted to be known as Pat. She believed that cut through the complications between head coach and players. It worked.

However, Summit was more than plain old Pat. She is the best woman coach in the history of any sport. After taking over the University of Tennessee in 1974, she amassed 36 seasons of 20 or more victories, won 1,098 games, made 22 Final Fours and won eight National championships.

Only Wooden (11), the UCLA legend and UConn women’s coach Gino Auriemma (10) have more national titles.

Twenty-two of her players were All-Americans and she won 32 conference titles - 16 regular season and 16 tournament titles. Summit, 64, died recently as the greatest women coach of all time.

“You think to yourself somebody is making this up,” UT Athletic Director Dave Hart once said.

In addition to the simplicity of life, she loved to have fun. Summit once dressed up as a cheerleader and sang Rocky Top during a men’s basketball game. She has dressed up as a pirate, gorilla and gas station attendant over the years for media guide covers and to ease the fears of players.

In April of 2012, Summit stepped down as head coach after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Earlier Summit and UT announced the Pat Summit Fund to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. It was a devastating day and Summit talked openly about it for as long as she could. Dozens of players visited her over the past four years.

“I can remember trying to coach, trying to figure out schemes, and it just wasn’t coming to me,” Summit once said.

Over the past few weeks, legendary players Candice Parker and Tamika Catchings visited her.

“One of the greatest coaches of all time and a great friend,” South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier said.

There have always been debates whether a woman could coach a Division I men’s team. Summit was the name that came up. She was tough and demanding and players didn’t always like it. They mumbled four letter words behind her back, but her way worked.

Twice UT asked her to consider coaching the men’s team. She turned the job down both times.

There are just a handful of women’s basketball programs that are considered great. Tennessee is one of them.

“Competition got me off the farm and trained me to seek out challenges and to endure setbacks,” Summit said. “And in combination with my faith, it sustains me now in my fight with Alzheimer’s disease.”

How great was she? The Sporting News placed her 11th on the 50 greatest coaches of all time. She was the only woman to make the list.

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