Calipari and Mitchell share thoughts on Pat Summitt

Kevin Erpenbeck

The sporting world lost an iconic legend early Tuesday morning when Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt died after battling early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Summitt, 64, was a pioneer of women’s college basketball and guided the Tennessee Lady Volunteers to 1,098 wins (the most in Division I college basketball history, men or women) ­­and eight national titles in 38 seasons at the program. She stepped down as a coach in 2012, one year after announcing she had early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Summitt changed the way people looked at women’s basketball with her work ethic and success. To many, Summitt was the face of women’s college sports and a key icon of Title IX, showing as a player and coach that women’s sports were to be taken seriously.

Kentucky basketball head coaches John Calipari (men) and Matthew Mitchell (women) shared their thoughts and condolences of Summitt in tweets after her passing. Calipari noted how the WNBA, which was formed in 1996, might not be around if it wasn’t for the former Tennessee coach’s influence. Mitchell, who worked under Summitt at Tennessee as a graduate assistant during the 1999-2000 season, said he would pass along the lessons he learned from her to others, as will everyone else who worked for Summitt.

Former UK men’s head coach Tubby Smith (1997-2007) also issued out thoughts and prayers to the Summitt family. Smith said he “learned a lot” from Summitt’s coaching philoshphy. Smith was hired as the head coach for Memphis in April after being named Sporting News’ 2016 Coach of the Year while heading Texas Tech.