March 23, 2005
Congrats to Pat Summit

Major congratulations to Tennessee coach Pat Summit for becoming the winningest college basketball coach of all time.

The Tennessee coach broke Dean Smith's career victory record Tuesday, getting No. 880 in the Lady Vols' 75-54 win over Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Summitt tied Smith at 879 with an easy win over Western Carolina in the first round Sunday night and passed the former North Carolina men's coach with another convincing victory. Summitt improved to 880-171, while Smith was 879-254 when he retired in 1997 after 36 years with the Tar Heels.

After the game, NCAA officials presented Summitt with the game ball and a plaque. And the university said the court at Thompson-Boling Arena will be named "The Summitt."

King Kaufman dispatches the argument that Summitt's achievement is somehow less impressive than Dean Smith's was. You can find a comprehensive overview of her career here. What really boggles me is the realization that Coach Summit is not yet 53 years old. She could pull a Paterno, coach for another 20-25 years, and retire with something like 1500 wins to her credit. You want to talk about a record that would likely be insurmountable, start right there. Coach Summit, I salute you.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 23, 2005 to Other sports | TrackBack

I didn't know Pat Summit was around in the days of the AIAW (more information about the predecessor of the NCAA Women's basketball tournament at - some of the top teams in the 1970s will surprise you).

I view Pat Summitt success in the same way as Eddie Robinson's success in football. While the cicrumstances were not the same as Dean Smith's or Bear Bryant's, the accomplishments were by no means any easier. She has my respect (as does Eddie Robinson).

Posted by: William Hughes on March 23, 2005 1:49 PM

I think the argument probably has something to do with the level of depth across conferences in women's basketball for at least the first 20 years of her coaching career (although the SEC is very difficult now, with #1 seed LSU), but it's true... she basically started coaching as a graduate assistant.

The question is whether she's going to be considered for the Tennessee men's basketball coaching job, although that would be a step down in terms of university prestige there.

Posted by: norbizness on March 23, 2005 2:44 PM

From a bio: "...who took over the reins of the program at the age of 22..."

When will a major university ever put a program as highly visible as women's B-Ball in the hands of a person so young again?

As you say, if she coaches till she's 65 or 70, she may put the records completely out of reach.

Posted by: Linkmeister on March 23, 2005 2:46 PM

Kaufman is writing what many are probably thinking about Summit's victory total not being "as impressive" as Smith's. And to a certain extent you can point to the smaller number of good women's teams in the 70s and 80s and even now than there is in the men's game as evidence to support that. But the fact of it is Summit took that job when she was 22, and over the last 30 years has built herself and her program into a household name. There aren't many female athletes, let alone coaches, whose name is known by even the most casual of sports fans. When you think women's hoops, the first thing you think of is her and her team. So for writers to make a veiled attempt to discredit her and her sport (and that's exactly what Kaufman is doing, despite any sort of disclaimer) is insulting and ludicrous.

Posted by: Tom Manning on March 23, 2005 2:46 PM

Pat Summit has had a first-class operation--both athletically and academically. In a day when college athletics seems to be forgetting about the academic needs of students, it's great that she has proven that recruiting students with brains and talent is possible.

Posted by: Stace Medellin on March 23, 2005 3:16 PM

Pat Summitt's accomplishment is greater than that of Smith's. Dean Smith didn't build the North Carolina dynasty. That was done for him. He simply maintained it and frankly didn't win as many national championships as he should have.

Summitt built her program, maintained it, and watched it achieve dynasty status in the mid-90's. She did it in the best conference in the nation year in and year out (the SEC). Six national championships, 15 Final Fours (there have only been 23 of those), and 23 Sweet 16's. Smith doesn't come close to that.

And those who say women's college basketball didn't have the depth of play as the men's game, I'll acknowledge that. But Smith coached when the NCAA tournament had 25 teams in the 60's and in a time where there wasn't any depth of play in the men's game. Anybody believe UCLA would have won 7 straight titles in this day and age? Didn't think so.

Posted by: Double B on March 24, 2005 1:01 AM

Tim and I were talking the other day about how easy it is for me to be a fan of Duke's men's basketball team (as much as I'm a fan of any basketball team, which is to say "not much") and I compared it to being a Yankees fan, without all the associated evil and sacrifices to the baseball gods.

What I like about Duke is exactly the same as what I like about Pat Summit and Tennessee: they run quality programs at good schools that perform well consistently without having to cheat. They encourage their players to be fundamentally sound, on and off the court. I like that.

Posted by: Sue on March 24, 2005 7:40 AM

I am a 33 year member of the Business and Professional Women's Club USA. It is a club dedicated to elevating women in the workplace through education. Your goals, your ethics, and
insistance on being the best you can be has brought you to the top.You are a role model for all working women.You are an inspiration to all young women. And, to top it off I certainly think
you broke the glass ceiling.

Gloria Wilson
1205 Charter Oaks Circle
Holly Hill, Fla. 32117

Posted by: gloria wilson on March 24, 2005 10:23 PM