Pat Summitt, legendary Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach, has died of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 64.
Her death was announced Tuesday on Twitter.com by the Pat Summitt Foundation.
Her son, Tyler Summitt, said his mother died peacefully at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville, TN early Tuesday morning. She was surrounded by family and friends.
“Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced,” said Tyler Summitt in a statement on Tuesday.
“Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.”
Summitt led her teams to a 1,098-208 won-loss record before she retired in 2012. Her last NCAA championship came in 2008. She was named NCAA coach of the year 7 times.
The only coaches (living or dead) who held more national titles than Summitt were UCLA men’s coach John Wooden and UConn’s womens basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who passed her after she retired.
Summitt has more wins overall than any NCAA Division 1 basketball coach — male or female. She has never had a losing season in her 38 seasons as coach of the Lady Vols.
In 2011 Summitt announced she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia at age 59. She retired from coaching a year later.
“It’s hard to pinpoint the exact day that I first noticed something wrong,” Summitt wrote in her book, Sum It Up, in 2013. “Over the course of a year, from 2010 to 2011, I began to experience a troubling series of lapses. I had to ask people to remind me of the same things, over and over. I’d ask three times in the space of an hour, ‘What time is my meeting again?’ – and then be late.”
Summitt had a reputation as a tough as nails coach who demanded discipline and professionalism from her players.
When one of her teams stayed out partying the night before team practice, she forced them to run until they vomited.
“The lady does not slow down, ever,” said Kellie Jolly, one of Summitt’s former players. “If you can ever catch her sitting down doing nothing, you are one special person.”