ESPN hails Pat Summitt

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With heavy hearts, we at ESPN join the sports community in mourning the loss of legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. She died Tuesday morning at the age of 64.

Her exemplary life and career is one we will miss, but will continue to celebrate and commemorate in her memory.

“We are saddened to hear the news of Pat’s passing,” said ESPN President John Skipper. “She was a pioneer and an inspiration, and we are incredibly grateful to have showcased so many of her amazing achievements. Pat has long been recognized as an all-time great leader and her legacy will never be forgotten as we celebrate her impact and triumphs both on and off the court. Our thoughts are with her loved ones during this difficult time.”

As the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history, Summitt collected several notable awards and honors, including NCAA Coach of the Year (1983, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2004), SEC Coach of the Year (1993, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011) and the Maggie Dixon Courage Award (2011), and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000. Four years ago, Summitt was named Head Coach Emeritus for the Lady Vols.

“Pat Summitt was a wonderful leader, coach and friend,” said ESPN Vice President, Women’s Sports Programming, Carol Stiff. “Her impact extends well beyond her successful career. She was an exemplary role model, mentor, and trailblazer. Pat would do anything to support the growth of the women’s basketball game. She enhanced the lives of not only her players, but those of us fortunate to know her. She challenged us all to be the very best we could be, on and off the court.”

Under the direction of Summitt, the Lady Vols were NCAA Tournament mainstays over her illustrious career. When ESPN gained exclusive rights to the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in 1996, her teams were featured prominently on an annual basis, capturing titles on ESPN in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008. Her leadership in women’s basketball has been an impactful part of ESPN’s coverage over the last 20 years, bringing attention to the sport and exceptional female athletes.

In addition to her role as a coach, Pat was also instrumental in the early years of ESPN’s WNBA coverage, serving as an analyst during the 1999 and 2001 seasons.

Summitt was the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS in 2012 after bravely revealing that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. Facing her toughest opponent yet, Summitt was determined to combat the disease for herself and others, founding the Pat Summitt Foundation.

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