TV tonight: Pat XO, the most successful coach in NCAA basketball
I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled...
WASHINGTON, July 9, 2013 —Tonight at 8 p.m. ESPN is airing “Pat XO,” the remarkable story of Pat Summitt, produced by none other than Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America.” According to an ESPN press release, “this raw, authentic portrait takes the camera from the filmmaker’s hands and places it into those who know her best.”
“With her son Tyler as the lead storyteller, moving recollections are shared by assistant coaches, players like Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Michelle Marciniak, fellow coach Geno Auriemma, and such admirers as Peyton Manning and Kenny Chesney.”
Pat Summit’s first and only coaching job at the University of Tennessee had a humble start that reflected the glaring disparity of funding for women’s sports common before the enactment of Title Nine.
Just prior to the 1974-75 basketball season, Summitt was named head coach of the Lady Vols after the previous coach suddenly quit. Summitt earned $250 monthly and washed the players’ uniforms herself - uniforms purchased the previous year with proceeds from a donut sale. She also drove the van that carried her team to games in those early years.
In August 2011 when Summitt announced that she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and would be retiring at the end of the season, she left the game as the winningest coach in the history of NCAA basketball.
Summitt finished her coaching career with 1,098 wins in 1,306 games coached in AIAW and NCAA Division I play. No other Division I basketball head coach, men’s or women’s, has more than 1,000 career wins as of the end of the 2011-12 season.
But the legend that is Pat Summitt is much more than her remarkable career. She has a God-like status in Tennessee. Summitt is the only person to have two courts used by NCAA Division I basketball teams named in her honor: “Pat Head Summitt Court” at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and “The Summitt” at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
She also has two streets named after her: “Pat Head Summitt Street” on the University of Tennessee campus and “Pat Head Summitt Avenue” on the University of Tennessee at Martin campus. She was twice offered the job as head coach of the men’s team at Tennessee. At least 19 of Summitt’s former players and assistant coaches, plus her son, have gone on to pursue their careers in coaching and basketball management.
Summitt was named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in April 2000. In 2009, the Sporting News placed her number 11 on its list of the 50 Greatest Coaches of All Time in all sports; she was the only woman on the list.
It is safe to say that no other person in the history of sports had the impact on women’s basketball that Pat Summitt did in her amazing 38 year career at Tennessee.
We can only hope that “Pat XO,” tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN does her justice, if that is even possible in one short hour.
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