HOOVER, Ala. — It took only minutes for the most popular and powerful college athletic brand in the nation to acknowledge the greatness of the late Pat Summitt.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey paid his respects to the Tennessee and women’s basketball icon in his opening remarks on Monday at SEC Football Media Days.
Here’s what Sankey had to say about Summitt, who passed away on June 28 at the age of 64, four years after retiring on account of early onset Alzheimer’s disease:
“In the days since her passing, there’s been any number of quotes from the University of Tennessee women’s basketball players talking about their mentor and their coach. Today I’ll share one from Kara Lawson who said: Personally, she was a life-changer for me. You come in as a young woman, and you’re rough around the edges in a lot of ways, and she, little by little, she smoothed those out and made you into something where you feel invincible as a player and you feel invincible when you graduate, with the confidence you have to attack whatever it is you choose to do.
It’s football Media Days, but it’s appropriate to remember Pat, because, while there’s a measure of her impact in the record books, we can’t lose sight of the fact that she had 100 percent of her players who completed their eligibility under her leadership, graduate from the University of Tennessee.
Last year I introduced the idea of scholars, champions and leaders as a vision for this conference, talking about graduating every student-athlete, winning every championship and changing the world. Pat may be the best example of having graduated every student-athlete, having sought and tried and competed to win every championship, and using the intercollegiate athletics platform to change the world. Her legacy demonstrates that academics and athletics are not just compatible, but essentially linked within the context of what we do in intercollegiate athletics.
From all of us, I mean all of us, I simply want to say thank you, Pat.”