She is celebrated as the winningest basketball coach in NCAA Division I history, but now her life is being both mourned and remembered: on Tuesday, June 28, legendary University of Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt died at the age of 64, according to the Associated Press.
The Huffington Post reports, “On June 26, a family spokeswoman said that ‘the past few days have been difficult for Pat as her early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ progresses.’ Summitt, who lived in a retirement facility, was “surrounded by those who mean the most to her,” the spokeswoman said.”
While many are saddened by her loss, Summitt’s life and many accomplishments are also being remembered. Spending 40 years as the head coach of the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols, the Huffington Post says Summitt earned 1,098 victories and only 208 losses during her career there — this, HuffPost says, is the largest number of wins earned by any NCAA Division I basketball coach of both men’s and women’s teams.
Besides commanding a team that won eight championship titles, HuffPost says that she also “boasted a 100 percent graduation rate among players who completed their eligibility.”
After being diagnosed in 2011 with early-onset Alzheimer’s, the HuffPost said she retired in 2012, but the University of Tennessee made it known that Summitt would always be a part of their basketball family, giving her the “permanent honorary title of women’s basketball head coach emeritus.”
Summitt was even honored by President Barack Obama in 2012, as HuffPost reports she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest award given to a civilian.
At the time Summitt was awarded the medal, HuffPost says President Obama had this to say about the legendary coach:
“Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched. Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”
Although her life may be cut short, part of her life’s work is, as President Obama foreshadowed, far from finished: HuffPost says her foundation (which aims to fun Alzheimer’s research), along with the University of Tennessee Medical Center, will open the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic this December.