Pat Summitt Retires: Legendary Tennessee Coach Set the Example for Excellence

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Pat Summitt Retires: Legendary Tennessee Coach Set the Example for Excellence
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Legendary Tennessee Volunteers women's basketball coach Pat Summit stepped down on April 18, 2012, according to Dan Fleser of Go Vols Xtra.

Summitt leaves the sport as the all-time winningest coach in college basketball history after 38 brilliant seasons in Knoxville. Holly Warlick has been named as her replacement, while Summitt will serve as coach emeritus.

"I feel really good about my decision," Summitt said. "I think this is going to be a win-win situation for everybody. Holly and I will work really well together."

The 59-year-old coach was diagnosed with early onset dementia in May of 2011, which began to take its toll on Summitt. But while she doesn't have the same energy that she did before battling the illness, her competitive fire still burns strong.

Simply put, if you love basketball, you must respect and admire Summitt's extraordinary career.

“None of us will ever have the impact Pat Summitt has” on women’s basketball, Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said, via the New York Times. “She’s our John Wooden.”

Summitt's effect on women's basketball was immense. She was never willing to put women's basketball below the men's game or allow people to think of it as being a "lesser" form of the sport. She treated her student-athletes like basketball players and not girls.

She did everything possible to make the NCAA recognize the importance of women's basketball, which finally began to happen when the NCAA sponsored its first women's basketball tournament in 1982.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Summitt is the model example of how to be the perfect coach in achieving success both on the court and in the classroom.

How successful was Summitt during her Volunteers career? Well, for starters, she won 1,098 games, and her teams failed to win 22 games in a season just twice in her 38 years as Tennessee head coach.

She also won 112 NCAA tournament games at Tennessee—no other Division I women's basketball program has even made it to 112 tournament games. Her eight national titles are the most of any coach in the history of women's basketball and are second all-time to John Wooden's 10 national titles as UCLA's men's basketball coach.

More important and impressive than her on-court success was her ability to make her players understand the importance of having an education.

According to Yahoo! Sports' Eric Adelson, Summitt has been able to reach amazing success in graduating her players.

"Every player who has completed her eligibility either has earned a degree or is on schedule to earn a degree. Think about that," Adelson wrote.

This accomplishment is incredibly impressive, especially in today's world of college sports, where academics has taken a backseat to money and athletic success time and time again.

Summitt has proven that it's possible to dominate both arenas and do it in a way that doesn't violate any rules or cut corners. She demanded that her players play the game with passion and respect, while also enforcing that an education is a top priority.

Few coaches in history have affected their sport as much as Pat Summitt has, which proves why she's a basketball legend and one of the finest coaches we'll ever see.

 

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