Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history, has passed away due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 64.
In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Summitt's son confirmed the legendary former University of Tennessee women's basketball coach died peacefully "surrounded by those who loved her most," according to the Associated Press.
Summitt coached Tennessee to eight national championships, 16 SEC championships (including seven in a row from 1998-2004) and was named the NCAA’s coach of the year seven times. She’s also the winningest coach in NCAA Division I basketball history — men’s or women’s — with 1,089 victories.
Summitt’s death comes just days after her family reported that she had been “struggling” with her Alzheimer’s, and that her health was in decline. Many of Summitt’s former players and assistant coaches spent the weekend offering prayers for the basketball legend.
My heart cries out for you right now!!!! #PrayForPat
— Delisha Milton-Jones (@DelishaMJones) June 26, 2016
Hope you don't mind that I ask for prayers for a dear friend close to the end of her journey. Would mean a lot to her fam, Peace be w/ you??
— Robin Roberts (@RobinRoberts) June 25, 2016
Summitt grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee and played college basketball at Tennessee-Martin. After graduating, she was hired as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee and was promptly handed the head coaching job when the Lady Vols coach suddenly quit.
In her 38 years of coaching, women’s basketball grew exponentially. When Summitt began at Tennessee in 1970, the NCAA didn’t recognize women’s basketball as a sport. Today, ESPN pays millions of dollars to broadcast the annual Women’s College Basketball Tournament.
Summitt’s Tennessee teams in the 1990s are still considered among the greatest of all time. The 1997-98 Lady Vols finished a perfect 39-0 to win their third straight championship.
Summitt announced in 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. After coaching one last season in a reduced role, Summitt announced her retirement in 2012.
Since her retirement from basketball, she’s helped found the Pat Summitt foundation and the Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic, which is scheduled to open in December at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.