WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama paid tribute today to former Tennessee Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt, presenting her with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
At a White House ceremony this afternoon, Obama reflected on Summitt's legendary career at Tennessee, her status as a role model to the young women she coached, and her tenacity in confronting the health problem that led to her retirement last spring.
"Anyone feeling sorry for Pat will find themselves on the receiving end of that famous glare," Obama said.
Summitt was among more than a dozen political and cultural legends to receive the medal. The award is given to individuals "who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Summitt, 59, stepped down as the University of Tennessee women's head basketball coach in April, just eight months after disclosing that she has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.
Her remarkable, 38-year career included 1,098 victories and eight national championships. She was named NCAA Coach of the Year eight times and has been a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame since 1999. She now holds the position of head coach emeritus at UT.
Besides Summitt, others receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; singer and songwriter Bob Dylan; astronaut John Glenn; novelist Toni Morrison; Israeli President Shimon Peres; and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
More details as they develop online and in Wednesday's News Sentinel.