Jan. 28, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - With the home crowd on its feet and the ESPN2 cameras rolling, a banner honoring Tennessee Women's Basketball Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt, was raised to the rafters of Thompson-Boling Arena Monday night prior to the ninth-ranked Lady Vols' game vs. No. 2 Notre Dame.
"What a special evening and honor," Summitt said afterward. "I find myself in very good company among the others with banners hanging from the rafters in Thompson-Boling Arena. I am grateful for this incredible honor and want to share it with the exceptionally-talented student-athletes and staff who have represented Tennessee and with our amazing fan base that has been so supportive through the years."
Summitt was joined on the floor by her mother, Hazel Head, and her son Tyler's finance, AnDe Ragsdale, as well as UT Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart. Both teams were present on the floor for the pregame ceremony, with the Lady Vol players, coaches and support staff joining Summitt for photos in front of the banner.
Summitt stayed for one more photo opportunity, as former players Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Marciniak, Candace Parker and Kyra Elzy, an assistant on the current staff, posed with their college coach in front of the banner.
With an orange-tinted background featuring the pattern of the Waterford Crystal basketball that is awarded to NCAA champions, Summitt's banner lists the years she coached at UT (1974-2012), her record at Tennessee (1,098-208) and the words "8 National Championships" at the bottom.
"We are thrilled to honor Pat and her outstanding career," Hart said. "She is a legend who transcends women's basketball. This banner serves as yet another reminder of the impact Coach Summitt has at our University and throughout the country. Her integrity, class and competitiveness continue to inspire the world of sports and, now, the fight to beat Alzheimer's."
Summitt, the NCAA's all-time winningest basketball coach in the men's or women's game with a record of 1,098-208 (.840), joined five players she coached as well as esteemed UT men's coach Ray Mears, Vol Network broadcasting legend John Ward and three former Vols in the lofty reaches of Thompson-Boling.
Previous Lady Vol player honorees include Holly Warlick (No. 22 -- Feb. 18, 1980), who has followed in her mentor's footsteps as Tennessee's head coach, Bridgette Gordon (No. 30 -- Jan. 17, 1990), Daedra Charles (No. 32 -- Dec. 28, 1991), Holdsclaw (No. 23 -- Feb. 1, 2001) and Catchings (No. 24 -- Dec. 7, 2003).
Vol honorees include Mears and John Ward (March 1, 2006), Bernard King (No. 53 -- Feb. 13, 2007), Ernie Grunfeld (No. 22 - March 2, 2008) and Allan Houston (No. 20 -- March 6, 2011).
During her time at the helm of the Lady Vol program, Summitt guided Tennessee to an NCAA-record eight NCAA National Championships. Her squads brought home the top prize in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008, with the '98 edition running the table with a 39-0 record. During her tenure, UT competed in all 31 NCAA Tournaments, advancing to 18 NCAA Final Fours and carding five runner-up finishes to accompany the eight title game victories.
In the Southeastern Conference, her squads won 16 SEC regular-season crowns and 16 postseason tournament titles. The Lady Vols captured the tourney trophy in her final three seasons, including last year in Nashville, and eight times Summitt's charges claimed season sweeps of the hardware. In 33 seasons of SEC play under her direction, the Lady Vols accumulated a 317-44 record (.878) during the regular season and a 69-17 mark (.802) during the postseason.
While Summitt developed 12 Olympians, 34 WNBA players, 21 WBCA All-Americans who earned 36 honors and 39 All-SEC players who received 82 total accolades, her most respected statistic is the 100 percent graduation rate of her players. All 122 of the young ladies who completed their careers as Lady Vols have earned degrees.
Summitt's personal honors could fill a book. For her on-the-court body of work, she was named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000, No. 11 on Sporting News' 50 Greatest Coaches of All-Time and the 2011 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year. She has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. She was a five-time Naismith Coach of the Year, the 1998 AP Coach of the Year, the 1998 IKON/WBCA Coach of the Year and the 1983 and 1995 WBCA/Converse Coach of the Year. She added SEC Coach of the Year on eight occasions (1993, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011).
In the past year and a half, since Summitt announced a diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, on Aug. 23, 2011, and that she was stepping away from her head coaching position on April 18, 2012, she has been recognized far and wide not only for her prowess in the realm of athletics but also for the impact she has had on society as it pertains to women, leadership and the determination and open nature in which she has handled her diagnosis and fight against the disease.
Just a few of the awards among her lengthy list of accolades are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the ESPYs' Arthur Ashe Courage Award, the USTA's Billie Jean King Legacy Award, the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award, AARP National Inspire Award and the Alzheimer's Association's Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award.