Cleat Geeks

25 Things You May Not Know About Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt died earlier today. It has become a tradition here at Cleat Geeks to do a “Things you may not know” article on influential sports figures upon their passing as a memorial to their lives so we can relive and marvel at their accomplishments. We hope that we can find something that is listed here that you, our reader, did not know about, and your respect and admiration grows for this person. For Pat Summitt we present a list of 25.  For some of the records it needs to be noted, the first season for NCAA Division I women’s basketball was the 1981–82 season. Prior to that, Tennessee played women’s basketball in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) in Division I.

  1. Summitt was born Patricia Sue Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tennessee, the daughter of Richard and Hazel Albright Head. She had four siblings: older brothers Tommy, Charles and Kenneth, and a younger sister, Linda. She married R. B. Summitt in 1980; the two filed for divorce in 2007. They have one son, Ross Tyler Summitt.
  2. With the passage of Title IX still two years away, there were no athletic scholarships for women. Each of Summitt’s brothers had gotten an athletic scholarship, but her parents had to pay her way to college. She won All-American Honors playing at the University of Tennessee.PatSummittOlympicsB&W
  3. She co-captained the first United States women’s national basketball team as a player at the inaugural women’s tournament at the 1976 Summer Olympics, winning the silver medal. Eight years later in 1984, she coached the U.S. women’s team to an Olympic gold medal, becoming the first U.S. Olympian to win a basketball medal and coach a medal-winning team.
  4. Just before the 1974–75 season, Summitt was named head coach of the Lady Vols after the previous coach suddenly quit. Summitt earned $250 monthly and washed the players’ uniforms – uniforms purchased the previous year with proceeds from a donut sale.
  5. During Summitt’s first year as head coach, four of her players were only a year younger than she was.
  6. She coached her first game for Tennessee on December 7, 1974 against Mercer University in Macon, Georgia; the Lady Vols lost 84–83.
  7. Her first win came almost a month later when the Lady Vols defeated Middle Tennessee State, 69–32 on January 10, 1975.
  8. In her second season, Summitt coached the Lady Vols to a 16–11 record while earning her master’s degree in physical education while also training as the co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Women’s Olympic basketball team that won a silver medal in Montreal.
  9. The 1981–82 season featured the first ever NCAA Women’s basketball tournament. The Lady Vols were one of 32 teams invited and named a 2 seed in their region. In the region championship, the Lady Vols upset top-seeded USC 91–90 in overtime to advance to the Final Four. They lost their Final Four match-up with Louisiana Tech, which went on to win the tournament.
  10. The Lady Tennessee Vols did well and made it to the NCAA Women’s tournament several times finishing in the Final Four more often than not but just could not win it until 1986–87, Tennessee broke through and defeated perennial power Louisiana Tech 67–44 to win the Lady Vols first national title.
  11. In 1988–89, the Lady Vols made it to the Final Four for the fourth straight year, as Tennessee took home its second title in three years with a 76–60 victory. Record-wise, it was Tennessee’s best season yet, as the Lady Vols won 35 games while losing only a pair of regular season contests to Auburn and Texas. The Lady Vols won every NCAA tournament game by at least 12 points.
  12. Early in the 1993–94 season, Summitt grabbed her 500th win, an 80–45 win over Ohio State on November 21.
  13. In the same season, the top-seeded Lady Vols breezed their way to their fifth national title game, with no other tournament game being closer than 21 points. However, in the national championship game, the Lady Vols fell 70–64 to the undefeated UConn Huskies, coached by her rival,Geno Auriemma, in the first of eleven championships for UConn.PatSummittCuttingDownNet
  14. In many aspects, the 1997–98 team was Summitt’s best. With the top-ranked recruiting class as well as Chamique Holdsclaw, the Lady Vols ran the table to a 39–0 season while playing one of the top-ranked schedules in the country. Only three teams came within 10 points of beating the team, and the Lady Vols won a 93–75 victory over Louisiana Tech for their third straight national championship.
  15. The Lady Vols ended the decade with their third straight 30-win season, third straight SEC title, and third straight SEC Tournament title. However, in the championship game the Lady Vols were beaten soundly by the Huskies, 71–52. This marked the fourth time in six years that Tennessee or UConn had eliminated the other from the tournament.
  16. In the NCAA tournament, in the 2001–02 season, Tennessee reached the Final Four again, with a 5-point win over Vanderbilt University. This trip to the Final Four marked Summitt’s 13th appearance, which broke Coach John Wooden‘s record of 12, and earned her 788th win, which tied Summitt with Jody Conradt for the winningest coach in women’s basketball history.However, the Lady Vols fell in the national semifinals to Connecticut, which wound up winning the championship and capping an undefeated season. This loss ended the season at 29–5, one win shy of extending Summitt’s streak of 30-win seasons.
  17. In the 2006–07 season, Summitt appeared at a men’s basketball game dressed in a cheerleader outfit and led the crowd in a rendition of “Rocky Top” to show her support for the team. A month earlier, her men’s counterpart, Bruce Pearl, showed up at a Lady Vols game in orange body paint.
  18. Summitt won her 1,000 game as the Lady Vols Head Coach on February 5th 2009 defeating the Georgia Lady Bulldogs 73-43 at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.The Thompson–Boling Arena’s court was named “The Summitt” in her honor.
  19. In August 2011, Summitt announced that she had been diagnosed three months earlier with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.Despite the diagnosis, she did complete the 2011–2012 season, but with a reduced role, while longtime assistant Holly Warlick, an assistant under Summitt since 1985, assumed most of the responsibilities. After the season, Summitt officially stepped down as head coach, ending her 38-year coaching career with Warlick named Summitt’s successor.
  20. On at least two occasions, Tennessee asked Summitt to consider coaching the men’s team: once before 1997 and again in 2001.
  21. She has the most seasons coached in NCAA/AIAW play without a losing record (38, lost more than 9 games in a season only 7 times and more than 10 games in a season only twice). She also has the most consecutive NCAA/AIAW postseason appearances (38, never missed a tournament).PatSummittMostCompetitive
  22. Summitt has the most number 1 seeds in NCAA Division I tournament history with 21. Most wins in NCAA tournament history with 112. Plus, most wins as an NCAA/AIAW Division I basketball head coach (1,098; in second place is Mike Krzyzewski with 1,040 wins)
  23. She holds the record for most NCAA/AIAW Championship game appearances with 15 and most NCAA Final Four appearances (18, six more than John Wooden, who holds the men’s records).
  24. She also holds the record for most 20-win seasons in NCAA/AIAW play with36, all consecutive seasons.
  25. And possibly most astonishing of all, 45 of her former players have gone on to become coaches.

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