June 14, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Pat Summitt, women's basketball head coach emeritus at the University of Tennessee, has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Global ATHENA Leadership Award, ATHENA International founder Martha Mertz announced Thursday during a private reception at Pratt Pavilion.
To date, the Global Award has been presented to only 28 elite women. Summitt joins such notables as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Patricia Schroeder, former 12-term U.S. Congresswoman; Lynn Martin, former U.S. Secretary of Labor; Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Networks and the first woman network president in television history, and Frances Hesselbein, editor-in-chief of Leader to Leader and, like Summitt, a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner.
For more than 30 years, ATHENA International has recognized, celebrated and advanced women's leadership in the United States and across the world. Over 6,400 exemplary leaders in more than 500 communities and in seven countries have been recognized with the ATHENA Leadership Award for professional excellence, service to their community and active assistance to women in realizing their full leadership potential.
The prestigious Global ATHENA Leadership Award is presented to women of international stature who have achieved a high degree of professional excellence as well as given service to their community, provided active assistance to women realizing their full leadership potential, and created, via their body of work, a positive national or international impact for women.
Summitt is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history (men or women) with 1,098 career wins. In her 38 seasons at Tennessee, she won 32 combined SEC regular-season and tournament titles and led her teams to eight NCAA Championships. Under her leadership, Tennessee has made an unprecedented 31 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament and produced 12 Olympians, 20 Kodak All-Americans named to 34 teams, and 77 All-SEC performers.
With her program maintaining a 100 percent graduation rate, Summitt has been an educator, role model and mentor to her student-athletes, and she has commented many times that she coached for "the love of the game." She has inspired her pupils to achieve on and off the court. Her former players are in many professions, including coaching, with more than 70 former Lady Vols pursuing that career on the professional, collegiate or high school level.
Summitt not only played on a U.S. Olympic Team (1976), she coached the 1977 U.S. Junior National Team to two gold medals, led the 1983 U.S. World Championship Team to a silver medal and directed the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team to a gold medal. She has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame, and received the Naismith Coach of the Century Award in 2000. She has been honored with numerous awards, including most recently the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
Among her numerous honors, she received the 2011 Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award, the 2011 Maggie Dixon Courage Award and was named by Sports Illustrated as the 2011 "Sportswoman of the Year." The Huffington Post honored Summitt with its "Game Changer Award" for being "an innovator, leader, and role model who is changing the way we look at the world and live in it". U.S. News & World Report recognized Summitt as one of "America's Best Leaders for 2007," and she was inducted into the Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame in 2011.
Summitt has logged an incredible number of hours supporting non-profit and charitable organizations, and she has given hundreds of speeches across the state and country. In 2011 she established the Pat Summitt Foundation to support cutting-edge research related to Alzheimer's disease. Pat Summitt exemplifies the ideal of ATHENA. She is courageous and strong, the champion of enlightenment, the bearer of wisdom, harmony and beauty to all.
The Global ATHENA Leadership Award is facilitated by the Tennessee Economic Council Foundation and the East Tennessee Women's Leadership Summit, and it is sponsored by First Tennessee.