Calling her an "inspiration" President Barack Obama Thursday announced former University of Tennesee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. The honor comes just a day after Summitt announced she would step down as coach to Tennesee's Lady Vols and eight months after revealing her diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's.
"Coach Summitt is an inspiration – both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's. 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," the president said in a statement announcing Coach Summitt's recognition.
Coach Summitt took her Lady Vols to eight national championships and 1,098 wins–the most in major-college basketball history.
The Presidential Medal of freedom is presented to individuals "who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," according to a White House statement.
Coach Summitt's work off the basketball court, on behalf of Alzheimer's patients through the Pat Summitt Foundation, was also recognized in Thursday's White House announcement.
Other recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom will be announced in the coming weeks according to the White House. A ceremony honoring them will take place sometime later this year at the White House.
What a great lady. God be with her.
Great news so Happy
Before anyone questions why a basketball coach is receiving such a honor, do keep in mind that Summit was one of the key figures in raising the level of awareness for women's sports through her career. She created a sports program that people cared about, watch and support. She is one of the key figures that helped 1000's of women obtain a college degree. Once UT started actually making money on a woman's sports, it encouraged more schools and conferences invest in woman's sports. Her contribution to the fabric of American life cannot be measured.
She deserves it