The sports world reacts to the death of legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt


As word spread that longtime Tennessee coach Pat Summitt passed away early Tuesday morning, the sports world quickly reacted to the profound loss. From coaches of all sports to athletes to administrators, there is overwhelming sorrow:

Statement from Dave Hart, Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics
“We are deeply saddened by today’s news of Pat Summitt’s passing. We send our deepest condolences to her son, Tyler, and to her family and friends.

Pat Summitt is synonymous with Tennessee, but she truly is a global icon who transcended sports and spent her entire life making a difference in other peoples’ lives. She was a genuine, humble leader who focused on helping people achieve more than they thought they were capable of accomplishing. Pat was so much more than a Hall of Fame coach; she was a mother, mentor, leader, friend, humanitarian and inspiration to so many. Her legacy will live on through the countless people she touched throughout her career.”

Statement from Holly Warlick, Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach
“Pat was my coach, my mentor, my colleague and a very dear friend. It is impossible to put into words how much she has meant to me and so many other individuals here at Tennessee and beyond.

“She played a very significant role in molding me into the person I am, and I will forever be grateful for the genuine care, guidance and wisdom she unselfishly shared with me and so many others through the years. I’ll always treasure the laughter we shared, the stories we loved to tell and certainly those stories we embellished.

Pat gave me strength and courage to face anything. She was driven to perfection and always remained true to her standards. That meant doing things the right way, no matter what. In my eyes, there’s never been anyone better than Pat Summitt. She entrusted me with her legacy, and I will continue embracing her passion and doing everything in my power to uphold that.”

Statement from Peyton Manning, former Tennessee and NFL Quarterback
“I’ve always been honored to call Pat Summitt my friend. She was always very supportive of my career and I enjoyed seeing her back at a Tennessee football game or when she would come to Indianapolis to see Tamika Catchings play. We would always get together and I made it a point when I came to Knoxville to visit with her.

“She was one of the people I consulted with following my junior year when I was deciding whether to turn pro early or stay in college. She gave me some very valuable advice during that time. My teammates and I went to a lot of Lady Vols games when we were in school, and I really enjoyed watching her teams play.

“I just always appreciated Pat’s friendship and support. I was always impressed with how all of her former players spoke about her. You speak to people like Tamika Catchings or Chamique Holdsclaw, and they just talk about the role that Pat played in all their lives on and off the court. You can just tell the impact that she had on those players.

“It would have been a great experience to play for her. She could have coached any team, any sport, men’s or women’s. It wouldn’t have mattered because Pat could flat out coach. I will miss her dearly, and I am honored to call her my friend. My thoughts and prayers are with Tyler and their entire family.”

Statement from Phillip Fulmer, Former Tennessee Head Football Coach
“Pat Summitt was many things to many people. Pat was a great person, loving mother, passionate coach, and loyal friend. We shared a lot of years working together and spreading the word about Tennessee Athletics. We had wonderful personal times talking about life, our respective teams, or helping each other recruit. Her legacy as a basketball coach is iconic, but her greatest legacy may well be through The Pat Summitt Foundation and her role in leading the battle against Alzheimer’s!

“Vicky and I are grateful for Pat’s friendship, and with two Lady Vols in our family, we are appreciative of the opportunities she gave to so many young women.”

Statement from Butch Jones, Tennessee Head Football Coach
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Pat Summitt. I had the privilege of spending time with Pat during my first year at Tennessee, and those are conversations I will cherish forever. When you think of all the great coaches in all sports, Pat Summitt is at the top of that list.

“As a coach, I stand in awe of Pat and what she accomplished on and off the court. She is someone I admired when I decided I wanted to get into coaching. You study all the great coaches, the traits that made them successful, and you try to incorporate those into your own program and teams. She demanded excellence and her teams played to her personality.

“It was about more than basketball for her, it was about life. She wanted every player that left the program to be prepared for the next stage of their life. Every player received a degree, and that was as important to her as any win on the court. She wouldn’t settle for anything but the best effort on the court and in the classroom.”

Statement from Jimmy G. Cheek, Chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville
“It is a very sad day on Rocky Top. Volunteers around the world are mourning the loss of the legendary Pat Summitt. Pat was the greatest coach of all time; her fierce spirit will live on through her players, and through all of us who were inspired by her on a daily basis. Our sincerest sympathies go out to Tyler and all her family and friends.”

Statement from Ray Tanner, South Carolina Director of Athletics
“Pat Summitt was not just a championship coach, she was a transformational leader for women’s sports. We all owe her a debt of gratitude for her leadership and showing us how sports can make such a positive impact on young women. Her legacy is a lasting one that will be felt for generations to come.”

Statement from Dawn Staley, South Carolina Women’s Basketball Coach
“I’m deeply saddened by what has happened to Pat Summitt. I’ve been a fan of hers and the way she so passionately and profoundly led our game. I can’t think of anyone whose footsteps I would want to follow other than hers. She has passed the torch to all who coach; it’s now our turn to make her proud.”

Statement from Lisa Borders, WNBA President
“A true coaching legend, Pat Summitt rewrote the NCAA record books and left an indelible mark on sports. Even more than her incredible achievements on the basketball court, her legacy will be her passion for her sport and her commitment to inspiring the next generation of young athletes. All of us at the WNBA send our deepest sympathies to the Summitt family and Volunteers everywhere.”

Statement from David Cutcliffe, Duke Football Coach
“First and foremost, condolences to Coach Summitt’s family and her loved ones. We were fortunate to share 19 years together in Knoxville and without question I am both a better person and coach because of it. Pat was a special individual in the truest sense. The way she handled herself both personally and professionally was inspirational to everyone who came in contact with her.

“We lost an iconic coach today – and not just for women’s basketball, but all sports. We also lost one of the most incredible educators I’ve been around. Pat’s ability to motivate young women within the team concept while incorporating life lessons was one of the many things I admired about her, and I don’t know if anyone has done it with more class, humility and success than she did. Every coach and educator should have a heavy heart today – she will be missed dearly.”

Statement from Joanne P. McCallie, Duke Women’s Basketball Coach
“Words can never describe Pat’s effect on others. She is the heart and soul of women’s basketball forever. Today is a very sad day. She left us too soon but not without setting the highest standards of competition and care. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and all of those with whom she touched.”

Statement from Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Men’s Basketball Coach
“There’s no question, [she] was really one of the greatest coaches of any sport. I can remember early in my career when C.M. Newton, one of the great guys in men’s college basketball, wanted to hire her to be a men’s coach. He said ‘Look, you should go to one of her practices because she knows how to coach.’ She really put women’s basketball out there, in other words, what she did with recruiting, accomplishments and championships really set the foundation for where women’s basketball is in our country right now. [She’s] really the gold standard of women’s college basketball. She produced so many pros and set the bar at a really high level for basketball.

“[Knoxville] was the center for women’s basketball. If you wanted to really look at the start, you would go to Pat Summitt and you would go from there. Obviously, Geno [Auriemma] is doing an unbelievable job at Connecticut, but that would not have been without Pat. [She was] a tremendous person, teacher and competitor. We shared a great honor in 2011 where we were both picked as Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated. We shared a cover, and we joked over the years as we signed so many. Whenever I got one that someone wanted signed, I said ‘If it’s signed by you, then I’ll sign it. What a terrific person and coach.”

Statement from Roy Williams, North Carolina Men’s Basketball Coach
“We lost one of the true giants in coaching, in any sport and regardless of gender, today. If there were a Mount Rushmore of coaching, Pat Summitt would certainly be included. (My wife) Wanda and I sent our daughter, Kimberly, to her basketball camp in Knoxville when I was coaching at Kansas, which is about as high a compliment one coach could give to another, because we wanted Kimberly to be influenced by Coach Summitt. She was a coaching giant, but she was even better in the way she treated people. Our hearts and prayers are with her family and her extended family, in particular all those who coached with her and the young people who played for her.”

Statement from Greg Sankey, SEC Commissioner
“Pat Summitt transformed the lives of people she touched: her colleagues, her competitors, and especially her players. Through her character, passion and vision, she also transformed the game of women’s basketball, impacting the lives of countless young people and forever changing intercollegiate athletics. The championships she won resulted from the larger influence she had on the people who played for her, worked for her and were fortunate enough to associate with one of the most accomplished persons in the history of college sports. Pat will always have a place of honor in the Southeastern Conference and our prayers are with her family at this difficult time.”

Statement From Florida Women’s Basketball Coach Amanda Butler
“Her impact goes beyond age groups, gender and even basketball. Everyone knew Pat because she was successful but more importantly she stood for all the right things…Character, toughness, discipline, hard work. She valued people and embraced the platform that basketball gave her. She was a the ultimate leader, a hero, inspiration and role model. My heart goes out to her family and everyone in Big Orange country.”

Statement from Florida Softball Coach Tim Walton
“Today is a very sad day as I learned of the passing of Coach Pat Summitt. Coach Summitt put women’s sports on the map in the Southeastern Conference and helped grow women’s sports across the country. My thoughts and prayers are with the Vols and the Summitt family. Coach Summitt will be missed, but never forgotten as she is one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport.”

Statement from Kristy Curry, Alabama Women’s Basketball Coach
“It’s hard to put into words everything that Pat Summitt means to women’s basketball, and more importantly, those fortunate enough to have been graced by her presence. As a coach and a mom, I always looked up to her. All of us should be forever grateful for how she has impacted our game like no other single person has or ever will. She has truly been a role model for so many of us. Our thoughts remain with her family and friends throughout this difficult time.”

Statement from David Williams, Vanderbilt Director of Athletics
“All of Commodore Nation is saddened by the loss of Pat Summitt. College athletics has lost one of its finest representatives. Coach Summitt’s high bar of excellence drove all of us to strive to be better in everything we did. Vanderbilt fans will remember many games with the Lady Vols; perhaps the 1993 game in Memorial Gymnasium between No. 1 rated Vanderbilt and No. 2 rated Tennessee that drew an overflow crowd sparked the public’s enthusiasm for the sport more than any game had to that point in time.

She was a legend and will be missed by all who love athletics. Not only have we lost one of the greatest coaches and teachers, we have lost one of the classiest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Pat Summit made us all better.”

Statement from Stephanie White, Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball Head Coach
“I’m saddened to hear the news of Pat’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and the entire UT community. She’s an ambassador of leadership, strength and courage that transcends sport. Her legacy lives on in all of those she touched. I’m forever grateful for the impact she made on me in the short amount of time we spent together.”

Statement from Carolyn Peck, Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball Associate Coach
“I, like so many others, love Pat. She would give her all to you. She taught us, you have to care about people before you can coach them. It’s more than just about the game. She has broken so many class ceilings for women, making sure the right things were done. Pat Summitt set the standard for women’s basketball, a standard I still refer to today! Because of Pat, women’s college basketball is where it is.”

Statement from Candice Storey Lee, Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball alumnae (1996-2002), Vanderbilt Deputy Director of Athletics
“Whether you were on her team, played against her or admired her from afar, Coach Summitt’s passion motivated all of us to exceed beyond our limits. My teammates and I share wonderful memories of our college basketball experience that were greatly enhanced by the fierce respect and gratitude we had for Coach Summitt as pioneer and trailblazer.”

“She was the epitome of class and a true champion in every sense of the word. This is a tremendous loss for college athletics but what will never be lost is her impact, which transcends sport.”

Statement from Matthew Mitchell, Kentucky Women’s Basketball Coach
“We are saddened by the news of Coach Summitt’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Summitt family and the Lady Vol family. She impacted millions of people in such positive ways. Pat gave me the incredible privilege to work for her and she taught me so much. I will be eternally grateful for that opportunity. All of us who learned from her should now make certain we pass along the lessons she taught. She will be greatly missed but her positive impact on the game of basketball and on the people she led will last forever.”

Statement from John Calipari, Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach
“Pat Summitt was a Hall of Famer and a true ambassador for our sport. She championed women everywhere and created opportunities for them. Would there be a WNBA without her incredible influence? Rest in peace, Pat. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Statement from Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky Athletics Director
“Summarizing Pat Summitt’s impact is impossible because she embodied all of the virtues you can imagine as a coach and a leader, from class to toughness to passion. Working with her at Tennessee was truly an honor, as was competing against her. She was an incredible icon in not only the game of women’s basketball, but in sports in general. She was a trailblazer who helped pave the way for what women’s sports are today and we are eternally grateful to her. We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Summitt family and the Tennessee Athletics family. Pat will be missed.”

Statement from Jeff Long, Arkansas Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics
“It is truly a sad day for all of us associated with intercollegiate athletics. Coach Pat Summitt was one of the all-time great coaches, in any sport, at any level. But most importantly, she was a tremendous mentor of young people using basketball as the vehicle to develop generations of young women through participation in college athletics. Even in recent years as she faced her own physical challenges, she displayed the same fearlessness, tenacity and determination she instilled in her student-athletes. Pat was a model of class and embodied all that makes intercollegiate athletics great. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, the University of Tennessee and all those who were touched in some way by her remarkable life.”

Statement from Jimmy Dykes, Arkansas Women’s Basketball Coach
“Today we pause for a moment to mourn the loss of a great woman, and shortly we will begin the celebration of Pat Summitt’s life. Pat was a mentor, coach, teacher, counselor, advocate and friend not only to the players she worked with but for anyone who had the privilege of knowing her. Pat’s reach extended beyond sports and her contributions and character will live on. Our thoughts and prayers with her family and the University of Tennessee.”

Statement from Robin Pingeton, Missouri Women’s Basketball Coach
“I think for the majority of the population when they think of women’s basketball they think of Pat Summitt. She was a fearless leader who was driven, passionate, demanding and loving. She was in a league of her own. There really are no words to describe the impact she has had on so many lives including my own. I have always had so much respect and admiration for Coach Summitt. She was strong, confident, yet so humble and real. Her legacy and impact will live forever.”

Statement from Karen Aston, Texas Women’s Basketball Coach
“Not only is the women’s basketball coaching community deeply affected by the passing of Pat Summitt, but the world of sports is surely mourning with us today. We have lost a legendary mentor, coach, mother, role model, and friend who truly changed the way we all view women in sports leadership. I personally grew up admiring her passion for basketball but, most importantly, her vision of helping young girls grow into confident women. We will all be forever grateful that she touched our lives in the manner that she did, and should celebrate her life and influence as we remember her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Summitt family, as well as the entire Lady Vol community.”

Statement from Jody Conradt, former Texas Women’s Basketball Coach (1976-2007)
“My 30-plus year friendship with Pat Summitt is one I will always cherish, especially in a business that doesn’t always breed genuine friendship. When I think of women’s basketball, I instantly think of Pat Summitt because she’s truly synonymous with women’s basketball. It was evident, even in her early coaching years, that she’d leave her footprints on our game. Her passion, her fire, her love and knowledge of the game, put her in an elite class of coaches. In the coaching profession, one is judged by her victories and Pat’s teams certainly won a ton of games. But when I think about her greatest impact, I think about the young women she coached and mentored, and how fortunate they were to have Pat as a leader and coach, and how blessed I have been to have her as a friend.”

Statement from Chris Plonsky, Texas Director of Women’s Athletics
“The modern era of collegiate women’s sports and Pat Summitt’s coaching career are intertwined. There were NCAA championships and Olympic gold, but also hundreds of young women whose lives were impacted by higher education and college degrees. Texas Athletics always has felt a special competitive bond with Tennessee, as administrations at both institutions made early commitments to supporting Title IX and opportunities for women in sport and education. Pat’s first NCAA title was achieved at our Frank Erwin Special Events Center in 1987. We join with the Lady Vols today in expressing our love and appreciation for Pat and her life’s work.”

Statement from Leon Barmore, Louisiana Tech Women’s Basketball Coach Emeritus
“Pat was the most respected, influential coach the women’s game has ever had. I consider her the first lady of women’s basketball now and forever.”

“There is no way that Louisiana Tech could have reached the heights that we did without Pat Summitt and Tennessee. She was one coach that would play us year in and year out. It was always a big game. In the ’80s it was the game that the nation looked forward to seeing. I think the competition that we had raised the levels of play at both Louisiana Tech and Tennessee. I don’t think I personally would have ever been at the level I was without Pat. I think Louisiana Tech and Leon Barmore owe Pat Summitt a great deal.”

“I think we both grew up kind of country girls and country boys, and we had the same values. We came from the same school of thought that we both worked hard. We said yes sir and no sir. When the game was over her graciousness in winning and in losing paralleled mine. We developed a relationship that was pretty neat. Once the game was over, we always remained friends. We respected each other during the game and after the game.”

“You think of John Wooden and Pat Summitt; those are the two names you think of in basketball. Wooden lived to be 100 and Pat only lived to be 64. This disease gets you too young.”

Statement from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association
An icon, leader, visionary, mentor, mother and coach, Pat Summitt was all of those things and much more. While her 1,098 victories, 22 Final Four appearances (18 NCAA, 4 AIAW), 16 Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles, eight national titles and 1998 U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Coach of the Year honors are monuments to her greatness, Summitt’s biggest impact and victories were away from the court, where she championed causes for equal women’s rights, Alzheimer’s disease and had a 100 percent graduation rate.

Pat inspired a generation of women, motivated student-athletes, influenced coaches and transformed lives. That’s her ultimate legacy. Her fierce spirit will live on through her players. Summitt’s accomplishments transcend statistics.

Words don’t do her legacy proper justice. Instead of using the world as a place to live in; Summitt used it as a giant canvas to create change, open minds and break through barriers. With an enthusiasm for life, Summitt was a courageous pioneer who made a difference.

On behalf of the USBWA, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Summitt family and Volunteers everywhere.

Statement from Mike Carey, West Virginia Women’s Basketball Coach
“Pat Summitt blazed a trail for many young women who had the dream to play sports at the collegiate level. She was not only a tremendous coach, but a fantastic person. Her legacy will be remembered for years to come as the greatest to ever coach the game. I give my deepest condolences to Pat’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

Statement from Terri Williams-Flournoy, Auburn Women’s Basketball Coach
“Pat Summitt is the reason our game is where it is today. She was the coach that everyone in our game aspires to be. But more importantly, she was the person that we all should aspire to be. Pat was a fierce competitor on the court and a strong, caring, compassionate woman off the court. Her desire to win with defense was an inspiration to my coaching philosophy. And her demand for excellence carried over to the classroom – her 100% graduation rate is a testament to her refusal to accept anything less than the best from her players.

“On behalf of the Auburn women’s basketball family, I extend my heartfelt condolences, sympathies and prayers to the Summitts and the Lady Vol family. There will never be another like Pat Summitt.”

Statement from Joe Ciampi, Former Auburn Women’s Basketball Coach (1979-2004)
“Pat Summitt is without a doubt the most iconic and important figure in the history of women’s basketball. Pat set the benchmark for all coaches to attain because of her passion and desire to win on and off the court. Her work ethic challenged each of us as coaches to improve each day by working harder and smarter. Pat’s competitive spirit, attention to detail with her trademark defense, and her ability to motivate each player to play their role and trust their teammate was her formula for championships.

I lost a friend today, but know Pat’s spirit will live forever within me and the countless people she impacted during her lifetime.”

Statement from Gary Blair, Texas A&M Women’s Basketball Coach
“I can’t even imagine where our game would be without Pat Summitt. Her legacy will be the impact that she has had on us all. It extends beyond her Lady Vol family, and includes any of us who have competed on every level. I’m honored to have competed against her, and proud to have called her my friend.

“Not only was Pat an outstanding basketball coach, but she was also a special person. She had an aura and a presence that made everyone in the room feel important, whether you were a manager, a junior high coach or a college coach. No one has done more to grow the game of women’s basketball, both on and off the court; when it comes to marketing, intensity, recruiting or giving back to the game, she was unmatched. My condolences go out to her family and the many other people whose lives she impacted.”

Statement from Vic Shaefer, Mississippi State Women’s Basketball Coach
“Today, we lost a part of the game that can never be replaced. Coach Summitt set a standard for all of us to follow. Her impact on the game of basketball is legendary, and she is the single-most influential person in the history of the women’s game. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to her family, friends and the University of Tennessee.”

Statement from President Barack Obama
Nobody walked off a college basketball court victorious more times than Tennessee’s Pat Summitt. For four decades, she outworked her rivals, made winning an attitude, loved her players like family, and became a role model to millions of Americans, including our two daughters. Her unparalleled success includes never recording a losing season in 38 years of coaching‎, but also, and more importantly, a 100 percent graduation rate among her players who completed their athletic eligibility. Her legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat’s intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder, and live with courage on and off the court. As Pat once said in recalling her achievements, “What I see are not the numbers. I see their faces.”

Pat learned early on that everyone should be treated the same. When she would play basketball against her older brothers in the family barn, they didn’t treat her any differently and certainly didn’t go easy on her. Later, her Hall of Fame career would tell the story of the historic progress toward equality in American athletics that she helped advance. Pat started playing college hoops before Title IX and started coaching before the NCAA recognized women’s basketball as a sport. When she took the helm at Tennessee as a 22-year-old, she had to wash her players’ uniforms; by the time Pat stepped down as the Lady Vols’ head coach, her teams wore eight championship rings and had cut down nets in sold-out stadiums.

Pat was a patriot who earned Olympic medals for America as a player and a coach, and I was honored to award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was a proud Tennessean who, when she went into labor while on a recruiting visit, demanded the pilot return to Knoxville so her son could be born in her home state. And she was an inspiring fighter. Even after Alzheimer’s started to soften her memory, and she began a public and brave fight against that terrible disease, Pat had the grace and perspective to remind us that “God doesn’t take things away to be cruel. … He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.”

Michelle and I send our condolences to Pat Summitt’s family — which includes her former players and fans on Rocky Top and across America.

Statement from Geno Auriemma, Connecticut Women’s Basketball Coach
“We don’t have a long history, women’s basketball, you know. The history before Tennessee and before Pat Summitt was kind of checkered because there wasn’t a lot of media attention. There wasn’t a lot of interest in the game. There wasn’t a lot of support from universities. So it is a short history. And during that short history, there’s one person for a long time, nobody else was even in that category. A lot of times there is competition among a lot of coaches. For the longest time, there was only Pat Summitt. Nobody else. I mean other people took their turn at getting their 15 minutes of fame. But when people talked about women’s college basketball in America, it was Pat Summitt and Tennessee. When you get on the cover of Time Magazine … When is the last time a women’s team coach got on the cover of Time Magazine? It doesn’t happen. So for that to happen, it’s saying a lot. Our sport is synonymous with Pat Summitt and Pat Summitt is synonymous with women’s basketball.”