Pat Summitt Defined Women’s Basketball

Summitt leaves a legacy of excellence as she steps away from the position she dominated.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

It's not easy being a head coach in a major sport for a big time college. The usual standard for the job is the basic 'what have you done for me lately' school of thought. The sad truth for coaches is that you are only as good as your next win and the window for job security is almost always about an inch open.

That is, unless you happen to be the best at what you do, which is where Tennessee Lady Vols head coach Pat Summitt found herself before she was forced to step down from her position because of early-onset dementia-Alzheimer's type.

Summitt, with the utmost respect to coaches like Geno Auriemma, John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski, is simply the greatest college basketball coach of all time.

During her astounding 38 years at Tennessee, she amassed a staggering 1,098 victories and eight NCAA titles. In fact, in the 31 years there's been an NCAA women's basketball tournament, her team has been in it every year.

Now that's consistency.

In an environment where only greatness can get you by, Summitt was the embodiment of it. She ate, breathed and lived for her squad, school and sport she excelled at teaching. Without Summitt, women's basketball would be nowhere near the level of exposure it's at right now. She pushed for more TV exposure, more media exposure, with that same dominant will she brought to everything she did.

"Whatever was good for the game, she did," associate athletic director Debby Jennings said. "She spoke to every booster club, Kiwanis Club, and Rotary Club.”

Summitt, at 59, leaves the game at a young age, and passes on the torch of her legacy to long time assistant and former UT player Holly Warlick. Warlick has huge shoes to fill — the biggest actually — but if there is one advantage to her, then it's this: she learned from Summitt, and she learned from the best the game has ever seen.

Photo Credit: Darrell Walker/Icon SMI

James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on