Pat Summit: Among the Greatest Coaches of All-Time

ShoreBall EnterprisesContributor IFebruary 24, 2009

Yesterday, I was reading this article about Tennessee Lady Vol’s basketball coach Pat Summit, and I found it to be a very interesting story. The article looked at her recent accomplishment, winning he 1000th game of her historic career, through the eyes of her son Tyler. Tyler, who was born in 1990, has witnessed 587 of his mother’s victories and is currently a senior high school basketball player.

In thinking about Coach Summit’s recent accomplishment, I’d first like to congratulate her on her historic victory. She became the first men’s or women’s Division I coach to reach that milestone.


She has to be one of the greatest basketball coaches of all-time, regardless of gender. In her 35 years of coaching, she has won eight National Championships with a career record 1002-187. That is an .843 winning percentage! Also, 455 of those wins have come on the Lady Vols home floor by an average margin of 24.1 points per game.


Her career and impact on women’s college basketball is comparable to the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. Wooden won 671 of the 932 games he coached for an .807 winning percentage and won 10 National Championships. Many fail to make that comparison or put Wooden in a more elevated position for various reasons. People will make the case that the talent pool in the women’s game is smaller than the men’s game and because of that the level of competition is thinner than in the men’s game. While that may be true on a certain level, remember that Wooden began his coaching career in an era where African-Americans were not fully integrated into the game.


However, I do think we can pose valid questions concerning both coaches’ careers. For Summit—would or could she have the same success coaching on the men’s level, and for Wooden—would or could he have the same success coaching in today’s era? You would think that legendary coaches such as these two could reach any player and have success at any level, but it is an interesting thought.


In either case, Summit’s son Tyler has dreams of playing college basketball, but his ultimate goal is to be a basketball coach someday. Hopefully, he has his mother’s gift. Congratulations, again, Coach Summit!