Facts about Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt died at 64 years old
Born: June 14, 1952
Best known as: Head coach of women's basketball at the University of Tennessee, 1974-2012


Pat Summitt Biography

Name at birth: Patricia Sue Head

Pat Summitt was the head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee from 1974 until 2012, and was the winningest basketball coach, man or woman, in NCAA history. Her teams won eight NCAA championships: in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, and 2008.

Pat Summitt grew up on a Tennessee farm and played basketball throughout high school and college. She graduated from University of Tennessee-Martin in 1974; that same year she was hired as the head coach at Tennessee, a position she held her entire career. (She also played on the US women’s Olympic team in 1976, and won a gold medal as coach of the 1984 women’s Olympic squad.) Pat Summitt became famous for her fierce intensity and signature icy glare, and for her success in turning Tennessee into a national power on the court. Summitt also was an academic taskmaster, typically with a 100% graduation rate for her players.

She won her 880th game on 22 March 2005 and surpassed Dean Smith to become the NCAA’s all-time wins leader; she won her 1,000th game in 2008. That same year she was awarded a $1.4 million contract, with an extension to 2014. Summitt promptly donated $600,000 back to the university.

Her motivational memoir Reach for the Summitt was published in 1998. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.

In August of 2011, Pat Summitt announced that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. She coached in the 2011-2012 season, but announced in April of 2012 that she was stepping down and would become Head Coach Emeritus. Her career head coaching record was 1098 wins and 208 losses. In May of 2012 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. In later years she lived out of the public eye, and in June of 2016, her family released a statement saying that “the past few days have been difficult for Pat as her early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s Type progresses.” She died a few days later, on June 28, 2016.

Extra credit

Pat Summitt was 5’11” tall… The court at Tennessee was renamed “The Summitt” after her 880th win… Many sources say Pat Summitt was born in Clarksville, but her biography on the University of Tennessee website says “Patricia Sue Head Summitt was born on June 14, 1952, in Henrietta, Tenn.”… Summitt married banker R.B. Summitt II on 23 August 1980; she filed for divorce in 2007. Their son Ross was born in 1990. The Lady Vols website says of Pat Summitt giving birth, “With her water broken, she still completed [a] recruiting visit in Macungie, Pa., and then flew home to Knoxville, urging the pilots not to stop so her son would be born in Tennessee”… Her record of 1098 college wins was surpassed in 2016 by Harry Statham, the longtime coach of NAIA school McKendree University of Lebanon, Illinois.


Something in Common with Pat Summitt