Pat Summitt has resigned as head coach of the University of Tennessee Women's Basketball Team, after 38 magnificent years. However, she remains at the apex of her profession.
As the word recently spread that Summitt would leave the Lady Volunteers' program, the onslaught of accolades -- from former coaching colleagues, players, fans and even the President of the United States, —began.
Summitt has earned every expression of praise.
Not because her teams won 1,098 games, which gave her more wins than any other NCAA basketball coach – men's or women's – ever.
Not because she lead Tennessee to eight national championships and the U.S. Olympic Team to a gold medal.
She has earned every expression of praise because she lives her life with integrity, grace and determination.
"I made a choice early in my career to challenge myself to step up my game each and every day," Summitt said during a press conference. To say she met that challenge would be an understatement.
This middle Tennessee farm girl was thrust into the head coaching job at Tennessee before she'd ever coached a single game. Today, she is identified with excellence in basketball, and her name will forever be mentioned in the same breath as UCLA coaching legend John Wooden as the best basketball coach ever.
Her players provide great testimony to her greatness. Of the 161 women who played collegiately for Summitt, every player who has completed her athletic eligibility has graduated. In an era that mocks the notion of the student-athlete, Summitt has proven that athletes can excel academically.
There are 74 former players, or people otherwise, associated with her at Tennessee that have followed Summitt's footsteps into coaching. Longtime assistant coach Holly Warlick will replace Summitt, but Summitt will remain with the program as "Coach Emeritus."
Summitt is in the Hall of Fame. The court in Thompson-Boling arena has been named after her. Later this year, at a White House ceremony, President Obama will present her with the nation's highest civilian honor – The Presidential Medal of Honor.
Although her diagnosis of early-onset dementia that was made public August 23, led to Summitt's decision to resign, it could ultimately prompt one of her greatest achievements. She is a powerful voice fighting Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.
Summitt deserves all the recognition she receives for her contributions to her sport, to her state, to her university, and to the many lives she has influenced and will continue to touch.