The theme for this issue of the Tennessee Alumnus, “Made In Tennessee,” was planned months ago. Also months ago, I daresay few might have imagined that early-onset dementia would also bring an early end to the life of the legendary Pat Head Summitt.
Her death, at 64, was untimely and met with sorrow throughout the nation. As we grieve her loss, we can also celebrate that Coach Summitt was one of the very finest products the state of Tennessee ever can boast. We can also acknowledge that she made Tennessee—she put our state and our university on the map in ways that are remarkable and would be unimaginable but for her.
Coach Summitt simultaneously owned the highest winning percentage in college basketball and a 100 percent graduation rate among her players. That’s a bar so high, it’s not likely to be bested. Ever. The standards she set for herself and those she coached are a model for success on and off the basketball court. In any field.
I am privileged to be associated with the university that benefited from its long association with Coach Summitt. And I share in the deep respect and admiration of all Tennesseans who take pride in the fact she was one of us and she was ours.