Tuesday, June 28, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1994


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) John F. Kennedy was once asked at a news conference why he enjoyed being president.  He said it gave him the opportunity, as the Greeks put it, to exercise "the full use of your powers along lines of excellence."

That statement would also apply to legendary Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach, Pat Head Summitt*, who passed away this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living Center here in Knoxville.

Coach Summitt achieved the most victories in NCAA basketball history, 1098, and NEVER had a losing season in 38 years as a coach.  At the University of Tennessee from 1974-2012, Pat won 8 NCAA championships, 16 SEC titles and 16 SEC tournament championships.  Her teams appeared in EVERY NCAA tournament from 1982 until her retirement in 2012.  Pat was selected Coach of the Year seven times.

Yet despite these glorious achievements, Pat's basketball players will tell you that they learned much more from Coach than just basketball.  As Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam put it...

"her integrity in everything she did will never be equaled.  She set the standard for excellence."

Coach Summitt announced in August 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.  Today, her son Tyler said...

"We can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease."

*Patricia Head Summitt (1952-2016) was born in Clarksville, TN.  She played college basketball at UT-Martin and was co-captain of the first US women's national team.  PHS won a gold medal as coach of the 1984 U.S. women's team.  


"Pat Summitt, legendary Lady Vols coach dies at 64," by Dan Fleser, Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 28, 2016,, and The Tennessean, 

Pat Summitt Statue
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN
Photo by John White (2014)


As an alumnus of the University of Tennessee, I am saddened today upon hearing the news of the death of Coach Summitt.  She was not only a great basketball coach, she was a great person.  Our daughter attended her camp in 1997 and parents were invited to come to Thompson-Boling Arena to watch one of the sessions.  The seats were filled with attentive young ladies aspiring to be great basketball players, except for one.  That girl decided it was a good time to be talking instead of listening as Pat addressed the group.

Coach Summitt called the young lady out and ordered her to come down to the arena floor and sit on the "T".  The coach then sternly expressed her displeasure with the girl's behavior and told her she would be sent back home after the session.  Later, as we were exiting the arena, Pat was walking along with the parents.  She turned to us and said, "I'm so sorry you all had to see that."  

Rest in peace, Coach, we love you and thank you for "giving your all for TENNESSEE!"

John White
University of Tennessee (BS 1970, MS 1974)
June 28, 2016

Jennifer White & Coach Summitt
Lady Vols Basketball Camp
Photo by Beverli White (1997)

Jennifer White (on left)
Lady Vols Basketball Camp
Photo by Beverli White (1997)