Skip to content

Pat Summitt to receive Medal of Freedom from President Obama at ceremony Tuesday

May 29, 2012, 11:18 AM EDT

Pat Summitt

Almost two months after announcing her retirement from the game of basketball, legendary Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt will be honored by President Barack Obama and presented with the Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony Tuesday.

Among those also receiving the award are astronaut John Glenn, author Toni Morrison, musician Bob Dylan, and Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a civilian, made in recognition of an “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Summitt retired in mid-April, months after revealing that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

Over her 38 seasons with Tennessee, Summitt compiled a record of 1098-208, winning 16 SEC tournament championships and eight national titles.

She was named NCAA Coach of the Year eight times and the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000.

In 2008, Summitt pledged $600,000 to the University of Tennessee, with her donation going to fund the women’s basketball program.

Summitt has been a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame since 1999.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. jimbo75025 - May 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Well deserved by a classy lady IMHO. Not a fan of womens BB, but I would wager most people in the country know quite well who she is. To have coached that long with never any NCAA issues and graduating 90+% of her players while always winning deserves some respect.

  2. cranespy - May 30, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    I will never forget seeing her after a game against WV in Charleston the night before Thanksgiving a few years back. Facing a 4 hour bus ride back to Knoxville, her team already showered and on the bus I overheard a security guard tell her there must be at least 700 people in line for autographs and photos…she never looked up…as she continued to graciously sign and fulfill every request she said to him….tell them I will sign them all! And she did….for over an hour….without a break hundreds of personal autograph and picture requests…smiling…chatting with the fans…no one would’ve blamed her if she had begged off and went to the bus….she didn’t…in fact by the time she signed the last one….she looked around and asked no one in particular…is that it? She walked toward the exit….talking to a security guard and janitor….leaving in her wake a near empty arena where hundreds of fans who now had something to tell their grandchildren about…were already on the road heading back home! I witnessed greatness that night, not only during the game but after it! Coach Summit is the greatest ambassador ever in women’s sports! May her days be filled with joy as she continues to fight for victory!

  3. newsofrealviews - Sep 9, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    When Pres. Obama gave Univ of Tenn. Coach Pat Summitt the Medal of Freedom that became about as bad as JFK awarding Curtis LeMay the Medal of Freedom. Summitt represents anything but Freedom and is more like the tyranny of over the top General LeMay, and such isn’t in the spirit of JFK’s intentions for these medals.

    Pat Summitt’s coaching methods are as bad as Road Rage experience, as her face turns red, she uses more profanity that any sailor, and her veins and eyes bulge. She is known for her extreme methods like pushing players up against the wall and shoving her knee in their gut to ream out players not performing up to her standard. Her standard is usually more than the player can deliver. Such verbal attacks and essentially physical assault on the players leaves them fearful of her rage and rath. Players have been in fear that she was going to kill them over these out of control methods of coaching.

    Summitt also takes away their official dressing room, takes names off Jerseys, makes the loose their manager helpers. It is more like living in tyranny to come up short on wins. When the players see the ice cold stare of Summitt on the sidelines of games and her foot starts tapping, the team flashback apppears to be one of fear of these rage coaching methods. Summitt’s methods are harsh and extreme rather than positive coaching.

    One might wonder, how in the world has this escaped the sports reporting, and the reasons are about the same as how the extremes at Penn. State escaped the news. All College Police Depts. do one thing, they work for the University and they cover up bad things. So, one sees the Campus police covers up and the Chancellors and Presidents of the College do the same to avoid any bad press. UT has extreme press control over the reporting, and for a reporter or radio person to be able to cover Summitt or even get interviews, you have to play her game and that means no embarrasing questions and always glowing commentary. Else, the paper or radio station looses advertising dollars and soon the radio personality or reporter is out looking for a new job.

    Pat Summitt often exhibits the same sort of rage against her players that Curtiss LaMay did against JFK, so when President Obama give Summitt this JFK inspired award it was really an insult to freedom and JFK’s intentions. Let other college coaches, like Coach Geno A, of U. Conn., try slamming a female player up against the wall and pushing his knee in their gut, while acting out extreme rage and see how long he stays a Coach and how quickly he would get tossed in jail for assault.

    There is a lot of undeserved credit for UT women’s basketball if one looks at how hard Summitt pushes and how many players get injuries that will cause lifelong impacts on their health and well being. Summitt is the poster coach for Dementia, which happens to be stimulated due to sports injuries and arthritic issues that associate to injuries. These sports injuries then link with early inflamation effects in the body that correlate with much higher risks for Demetia in later life. The real story of Coach Summitt appears to be this hard driving athletics push both injured herself and pushed her players past reasonable limits. The Dementia that she now experiences, that removed her from Coaching, is the real story of the long term risks that College Sports players face in later life due to all out reckless efforts to gain wins at any cost to the body.

    So, should America call such methods of UT’s Coach Summitt as Freedom, or more like a system of oligarchic power and tyranny that treats the players more as slaves pushed to the breaking point for wins. I do think that JFK would never have rewarded the Coach Summitt coaching a medal of freedom any more than he would have given one to General LeMay. Both are extreme examples against freedom. imho

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!