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Pat Summitt stands at the top of women's basketball in terms of victories and national championships. Sports Illustrated magazine has paid tribute to that and much more in recognizing Tennessee's coach with its highest honor.
Summitt has been named the magazine's 2011 Sportswoman of the Year. She shares the annual spotlight with Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who was named Sportsman of the Year. He became the winningest coach in Division I men last month. The magazine announced the awards Monday morning. Summitt and Krzyzewski will be honored in New York City on Tuesday evening.
"Obviously, this is a tremendous honor,'' Summitt said in a UT release. "I am so privileged to share it with such a great coach in Mike Krzyzewski. During our careers, we have both been fortunate to work with so many talented student-athletes, who were driven to excel both on and off the court.
"For me, this recognition is a direct reflection of the outstanding young women who have worn the orange and white Lady Vol jersey of the University of Tennessee; the coaching staffs I have worked with throughout my career and the supportive administration at UT."
In a release, Time Inc. Sports Group editor Terry McDonell said of both coaches: "The voices of those who have been inspired by Pat Summitt and Mike Krzyzewski echo from everywhere and will continue for decades. What they have achieved through their coaching and, more importantly, their teaching places them among history's transcendent figures."
Summitt is in her 38th season as Tennessee's coach. Her victory total, which stands at 1,075 and counting after Sunday's 73-57 victory over Texas, is the all-time best in NCAA basketball history. The Lady Vols have won eight national championships under her guidance with the titles spanning three decades.
SI senior writer Alexander Wolff has written a feature on both coaches for the magazine that details not only the arch of their respective careers but their adaptability and knack for handling adversity and taking up causes beyond their normal realm.
Summitt has become a compelling figure for those afflicted with Alzheimer's disease. She announced in August that she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type but will continue coaching. While she is relying heavily on her assistants coaches, Summitt has maintained her presence and has her say in the daily management of the team.
A "We Back Pat" T-shirt campaign this fall generated more than $150,000 in donations as part of National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. At halftime of a Nov. 27 game against Baylor at Thompson-Boling Arena, Summitt and her son, Tyler, announced the formation of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund. The foundation will make grants to nonprofit organizations that provide Alzheimer's education and research as well as support services.