Fans and supporters of longtime Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt were expecting the announcement of her death, and it came early Tuesday morning. Her family had told media that her health had been rapidly failing. By Monday night, she was no longer seeing visitors.
The 64-year old had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Type early onset dementia since 2011. She stepped back from her head coaching duties in 2012.
Summitt’s record on the court is nearly unmatched. She ended a 38-year career with more victories than any other coach, man or woman, at the time of her retirement. She earned eight national championships and is considered the most transformative figure in the history of her sport.
Part of her iconic status was her famously intense stare, often used to motivate her players and intimidate opponents. She told NPR in 2005 that she learned the power of non-verbal communication from her father.
“I guess that’s something that when I started coaching, rather than raise my voice at times, I would just look at someone," she said. "That's I guess where we got the stare.”
Summitt’s off-the-court accomplishments were equally impressive — with 74 of her former players going on to become coaches, and a 100% graduation rate amongst her players for the entirety of her career.
Summitt is survived by her son Tyler, who says in a statement there will be a private service and burial held in Middle Tennessee. A public memorial service is planned for Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, though a date has not been set.
"She was more than a coach to so many," he writes. "She was a hero and a mentor, especially to me."