Obama, Gov. Haslam Pay Tribute To Pat Summitt

Posted at 6:33 AM, Jun 28, 2016

From sports icons to government officials, dozens have expressed their condolences on the passing of legendary Tennessee Women’s Basketball coach, Pat Summitt.

Tyler Summitt, son:

"... For 64 years, my mother first built her life upon a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Her foundation was also built upon love of her family and of her players, and love of the fundamentals of hard work which reflected her philosophy that ‘you win in life with people.'"

Click here to read his entire statement.

President Barack Obama: 

"Nobody walked off a college basketball court victorious more times than Tennessee’s Pat Summitt.  For four decades, she outworked her rivals, made winning an attitude, loved her players like family, and became a role model to millions of Americans, including our two daughters. Her unparalleled success includes never recording a losing season in 38 years of coaching‎, but also, and more importantly, a 100 percent graduation rate among her players who completed their athletic eligibility. Her legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat’s intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder, and live with courage on and off the court. As Pat once said in recalling her achievements, 'What I see are not the numbers.  I see their faces.'

Pat learned early on that everyone should be treated the same. When she would play basketball against her older brothers in the family barn, they didn’t treat her any differently and certainly didn’t go easy on her. Later, her Hall of Fame career would tell the story of the historic progress toward equality in American athletics that she helped advance. Pat started playing college hoops before Title IX and started coaching before the NCAA recognized women’s basketball as a sport. When she took the helm at Tennessee as a 22-year-old, she had to wash her players’ uniforms; by the time Pat stepped down as the Lady Vols’ head coach, her teams wore eight championship rings and had cut down nets in sold-out stadiums.

Pat was a patriot who earned Olympic medals for America as a player and a coach, and I was honored to award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was a proud Tennessean who, when she went into labor while on a recruiting visit, demanded the pilot return to Knoxville so her son could be born in her home state. And she was an inspiring fighter. Even after Alzheimer’s started to soften her memory, and she began a public and brave fight against that terrible disease, Pat had the grace and perspective to remind us that 'God doesn’t take things away to be cruel. … He takes things away to lighten us.  He takes things away so we can fly.'

Michelle and I send our condolences to Pat Summitt’s family – which includes her former players and fans on Rocky Top and across America."

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam: 

“We have lost one of the greatest Tennesseans of all time. Anyone who knows Pat knows she was intensely focused on her mission, which in her case meant winning basketball games, but you also know that she never lost sight of the bigger picture in the midst of that. She made certain that every woman that played for her graduated and was prepared for life after basketball. She also made certain that she was a part of the larger community. I have so many great memories of Pat, not only of her winning eight championships, but of her being the United Way chair in Knoxville and sitting down with me one-on-one to talk through what she had learned about how to accomplish goals. It’s not an exaggeration at all to say that Pat changed the lives of so many people – some of us in a direct way, but everybody in terms of having a vision of what it looked like to be focused on your mission but to remember that there was a bigger picture going on that was way beyond winning basketball games, even though she did win a whole lot of basketball games.” 

 U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.):

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Pat Summitt. Basketball has lost a legend, and Tennessee has lost one of its most beloved daughters.

“There is perhaps no one who left a more indelible mark on his or her profession than Coach Summitt. Through her 38 years as head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers, she amassed a historic record of achievement and blazed a trail for women across our country. The impact she had on her players, the University of Tennessee, the Knoxville community, and the game of basketball will be felt for years to come. I join all Tennesseans today in celebrating her life and extend my thoughts and prayers to her son, Tyler, the Lady Vol family, and all those who were touched by her remarkable life.”

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.): 

“It’s hard for people outside Tennessee to understand just how much Pat Summitt became a part of the lives of so many citizens in our state. She took time for community events. She taught us the game of women’s college basketball. And she was so up front and personal about it, with her famous stare and her discussion of her extraordinary athletes, what their strengths were and what they had to work on. We all felt we not only knew her—we knew the athletes as well.

“Pat did far more than win eight national championships: she changed the lives of the young women she coached, she showed us the measure of a real champion and her fight against Alzheimer’s set an example for us all.” 

UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek:

“It is a very sad day on Rocky Top. Volunteers around the world are mourning the loss of the legendary Pat Summitt. Pat was the greatest coach of all time; her fierce spirit will live on through her players, and through all of us who were inspired by her on a daily basis. Our sincerest sympathies go out to Tyler and all her family and friends.”

Joan Cronan, University of Tennessee Knoxville Women’s Athletic Director Emeritus: 

“Words are not adequate for my feelings at this time. Pat Summitt was the most courageous person I’ve ever known in fighting this disease. She was determined to make a difference in bringing attention to the disease and she has done that. She fought the good fight and all of us who loved her will continue that fight on her behalf through the Pat Summitt Foundation.

As you know I worked with Pat for over 30 years. People would refer to me as her boss and I always remarked, Pat Summitt has no boss. She was the ultimate leader who led by example with strength, character and integrity but also with care. She loved her family and players with a fierceness equalled only by that renowned stare of hers.

The legacy she leaves is immense. Her players, who all have college degrees, have been enriched by her teaching. They are coaches, professors, television personalities, businesswomen, all now making a difference in their world because of Pat Summitt.

There will never be another Pat Summitt. She belongs to the ages now and we are sad but so fortunate to have called her a colleague and friend.”

Former Lady Vol/WNBA player Cierra Burdick:

Kyra Elzy, former Lady Vol/Assistant Head Coach for the Kentucky Wildcats: 


My heart is heavy. There are no words to describe the feeling of this loss. My coach, my friend, my mentor ... Gone way too soon. Even with the heartache, I will find peace that she is no longer battling such an ugly disease. I will forever remember the moment standing by her bedside saying my final good-bye. I kissed her on the cheek and told her how thankful and grateful I was to have her in my life for so long. I reminded her how much I loved her even though she gave me hell as a player (out of love). One of the things that I promised was to continue the Lady Vol legacy like she has instilled in each and everyone one of us in the Lady Vol program. It became so clear to me what Coach Summitt wanted from us the other day. One of Coach Summitt's last years on the road recruiting, she treated a group of her former players in coaching to dinner. We insisted she didn't have to pay but of course she always did. She then looked at us with those big blue eyes and said, "how you all will repay me is to continue the sisterhood of this program and the legacy of the Lady Vols long after I'm gone." To my Lady Vol sisters, we will do just that. We are a select few chosen ones that had the honor to wear ORANGE. Coach, THANK YOU for being you. THANK YOU for making me the woman that I am today. THANK YOU for instilling in me a work ethic and mental toughness to succeed against all odds. The gift that you have given me - I pray that I can do the same for the players and people that I touch. Until I see you again.... With fierce courage we will keep on keepin' on!!! I LOVE YOU. P.S. - As you dance your way into heaven, I will keep the wonderful memory of you dancing at our wedding with your shoes off and a big smile. You deserve everything that you will receive when God opens up the gates to heaven. For you have done a job well done here on earth. ??

A photo posted by Kyra Elzy (@coachlz) on


Nashville Mayor Megan Barry: 

Tennessee Lady Vols Coach Holly Warlick: