Although Pat Summitt wasn’t in attendance Thursday at SEC media day, the former Tennessee women’s basketball head coach had her place in the thoughts of the other league coaches.
Summitt, who’s dealing with early onset dementia Alzheimer’s type, stepped down in April after 38 seasons and was replaced by longtime assistant Holly Warlick.
Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb noted Summitt’s career, which included 1,038 victories and eight national championships at Tennessee, and said, “I don’t think that can happen again. I could be wrong but I don’t think the UCLA and John Wooden thing ever happened again, did it? I compare it to that.”
Balcomb added, “She was really good for the sport. We kind of need to be disciples and continue to build the sport for her.”
Missouri coach Robin Pingeton, whose team is new to the SEC, described Summitt’s legacy as “unbelievable” and said, “She changed the game drastically, maybe more than anyone else.”
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley sounded as if she still was processing Summitt’s absence.
“It’s a day we never thought would come,” she said. “We do have to pay homage to her professionalism, her dedication to the sport, her dedication to this league. She’s going to be sorely missed. But she’s going to be around.”
Summitt now serves as the Lady Vols’ head coach emeritus.