Obama hails Pat Summitt as role model in medal ceremony

President Barack Obama awards Pat Summitt, former women's college basketball head coach, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Photo by AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Barack Obama awards Pat Summitt, former women's college basketball head coach, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Legend: A tribute to Pat Summitt

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.

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Comments » 57

voloffaith writes:

Bob Dylan was just some blowing in the wind....ya got to serve some body...maybe the devil maybe the Lord..but ya got ta serve some body...Happy for our Beloved Coach....

LouisVol writes:

A well deserved honor for Coach Summitt. I'm glad she was able to enjoy it.

voloffaith writes:

in response to Da_Dooley_will_soon_be_Da_Fired:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I don't agree with his politics, but this is about Coach Summitt being honored.....Disrespect for the office inexcusable.....CONGRATS Coach Summitt.....bye bye for defamatory remark about OUR President......

Ichabod writes:

Nice photo. As usual, the 'Knoxville Shopper', on top of their game. (guess the AP line was not yet available)

gmukid06 writes:

in response to voloffaith:

I don't agree with his politics, but this is about Coach Summitt being honored.....Disrespect for the office inexcusable.....CONGRATS Coach Summitt.....bye bye for defamatory remark about OUR President......

I may not agree totally with what the President is doing but I DO NOT AGREE AT ALL about your username?!? Dooley_dead_man_walking? Really? Thats a bit much!

Down_The_Field writes:

i love pat!

voloffaith writes:

in response to gmukid06:

I may not agree totally with what the President is doing but I DO NOT AGREE AT ALL about your username?!? Dooley_dead_man_walking? Really? Thats a bit much!

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

gmukid06 writes:

Justlet Coach Summit enjoy this honor! A visit to the White House is a distinct honor regardless! She worked hard for every honor she gets and deserves all the recongition she gets because she did it the right way!

RockyBears2009 writes:

Pat Summit > Barack Obama

gmukid06 writes:

Sorry vol4gzus I was responding using your response to show how deplorable his name and comment was! No offense to you and your VERY valid point!

voloffaith writes:

in response to gmukid06:

Sorry vol4gzus I was responding using your response to show how deplorable his name and comment was! No offense to you and your VERY valid point!

And looky here the site police cleaned up a mess on aisle #6......No offense /I gave benefit of doubt as we would like all to assume. Sadly some only know how to spew vitriol.....

volinlm writes:

This is a great honor for Pat and she sure deserves it. She was in great company today. True Vol fans will always appreciate the memories she has left us.

TNVol71 writes:

What a great coach and great lady to represent what is good in college sports! She is one of the keystones in making women's NCAA basketball the great fan sport that it is today. Thanks, Pat, for all you have done for this university. The look she gave when things weren't going as planned will be a well-revered aspect of her career.

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to RockyBears2009:

Pat Summit > Barack Obama

simple,accurate

VolzsFan writes:

in response to Ears_Whitworth_in_Orange_Pants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yes, she did earn the right to go out when and how she wanted. She is the best Woman's basketball coach in UT history. However, Rod Delmonico and Phil Fulmer are the two most successful coaches in their sport and they should have been given that same consideration. The way the school's legends are treated are very much on the radar of the country's coaches and is a big reason why it will be many many years before there is any success at UT in any sport.

MetroplexMojo writes:

Leave the political cr@p out of this. This day and the limelight should belong to Coach Summitt. You all will have a chance in November to make your political thoughts known.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

This post will probably be the 18th or 19th responding to this story; I will bet it tops out under 100. Todate, there are 950 and counting, who commented on the three Clear articles. Okay to like football and okay to dislike women's basketball. I just think Vol fans should show equal interest in one of the, if not the, greatest Vol receiving our nation's highest civilian honor....vs. one of one hundred footballers stealing a computer. I'm just saying.

Caneoverthere writes:

Congrats coach!

Vol43 writes:

This is almost comical. Here's an interesting piece honoring Pat and some turn it into a jousting match.

Kasey writes:

She's such an amazing person - well deserves this honor.

MetroplexMojo writes:

in response to Number69:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Coach Summitt was one of the greatest ambassador for UT and womens sports in general. This accomplishment should be lauded and not a forum to discuss political issues or thoughts on former football coaches. If you want to vent about Obama, call Rush or vent in the voting booth in November.

Razor784 writes:

in response to Ears_Whitworth_in_Orange_Pants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If Hart did that then he should be fired today. Pat's done too much for the university, you don't fire a legend.

GreerVol22 writes:

You just gotta back Pat. So sad to see the fire in her eyes fading to a look of lost bewilderment.

When Pat stopped doing press conferences post game, I knew her days were numbered. So quit fussing about "she deserved to work as long as she wanted". It's done. Let's celebrate her accomplishment, and not fiddle with semantics.

born2ride writes:

Great honor for Pat.

Voting against Obama.

Vol43 writes:

in response to MOUNTAINofOKEMO:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Suits me too bro. He shoulda been gone a long time ago.

GerryOP writes:

A really great lady ... and the greatest basketball coach. In her remaining days, may every conceivable honor be bestowed upon her and may we always remember her in the finest light.

God bless you Coach Summitt and thank for all of the honor and glory that you brought to The University of Tennessee.

GerryOP writes:

in response to Ears_Whitworth_in_Orange_Pants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No matter what the situation and no matter what the topic, you just can't pass up on any opportunity to promote your own selfish, pitiful agenda. Yes, it certainly is a dishonor to voice your negative and unfounded opinion about how Dave Hart handled this very difficult situation. Pat Summitt handled her transfer of title with honor and pride, but you had to besmirch her day of honor with your selfish and unproven agenda. Go to your room and stay there until you learn proper public courtesies.

Simply put, you and your actions are disgusting.

Vol43 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

No matter what the situation and no matter what the topic, you just can't pass up on any opportunity to promote your own selfish, pitiful agenda. Yes, it certainly is a dishonor to voice your negative and unfounded opinion about how Dave Hart handled this very difficult situation. Pat Summitt handled her transfer of title with honor and pride, but you had to besmirch her day of honor with your selfish and unproven agenda. Go to your room and stay there until you learn proper public courtesies.

Simply put, you and your actions are disgusting.

He is indeed disgusting. I have great sympathy for his family if he has one. I can see it now, he tells his wife he has to take a business trip. She packs his bag in about 3.2 minutes and sets it at the door.

Vol43 writes:

in response to Won_and_Done:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Actually, it doesn't there ole scooner boy. Even with a feel good story, the idiots can't help themselves, I reckon.

TheVolSnake writes:

About Pat
We all know her as a Women’s basketball coach, but in my option her influence on personnel is her greatest achievement. Every Lady Vol basketball player who has completed her eligibility at Tennessee has received a college degree or is in the process of completing degree requirements, 45+ coaches were trained by her mainly as players, propelled women’s sports to where they are today. She was the first person ever to win Olympic gold as a player and coach. She became the head coach at the age of 22 and the first two seasons where the only two seasons where she did not win 20 or more games and is the only men's or women's basketball coach in NCAA history to reach 1000 wins. She has never had a losing season. She is the all time winning coach men or women sports. Has two courts named after her and three roads (everyone forget the one in Clarksville TN). She has won 109 games in the NCAA post-season tournament. No other women's basketball program has even played in 100 NCAA tournament games.
Championships 8 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championships (1987,1989,1991,1996,1997,1998,2007,2008)
16-time SEC Champions
(1980, 1985, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011)
15-time SEC Tournament Champions
(1980, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011)
1999: Inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class.
2000: Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
April 2000.: Named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century.
2008: Named Best Coach/Manager ESPY Award. Award encompasses all sports college and professional
2009: Named to Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest coaches of all time (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, college basketball, and college football). She is listed in position 11 and the only lady on the list.
2011: Named Sports Illustrated's Sportswoman of the Year, Dec. 6th, 2011 in NYC.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Summitt

tish#345235 writes:

in response to GreerVol22:

You just gotta back Pat. So sad to see the fire in her eyes fading to a look of lost bewilderment.

When Pat stopped doing press conferences post game, I knew her days were numbered. So quit fussing about "she deserved to work as long as she wanted". It's done. Let's celebrate her accomplishment, and not fiddle with semantics.

Greer, you DA, she is looking at Tyler. I think she looks great, been to the beach as she wanted to. The President thought enough of her to give Coach the highest civilian honor the country can bestow -- even if Hart didn't. Please, UT and the people that call the shots at UT, don't lump our Lady Vols sports in with the men; don't destroy any more relationships with people dedicated to the university. Who gave the keys to the school to Hart anyway?

rocky_topper writes:

Well deserved!

rockypop writes:

in response to Ears_Whitworth_in_Orange_Pants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I keep reading posts like yours suggesting that Coach Summitt was asked to step down by Hart, and yet, I've never read anything official - either from the university or from a credible news source that confirms this. So, what's your source?

MetroplexMojo writes:

in response to Ears_Whitworth_in_Orange_Pants:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

PUL4VOLS writes:

Thank you President Obama! Thank you Pat Summitt.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

A well deserved honor, to say the least. No fan of the President, but he gets credit here.

Orangejellybean writes:

in response to MetroplexMojo:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Do you not recognize that by your cursing vulgarity, you have just debased this entire thread of what was meant as an honor and to show respect to our lady coach, Ms. Summitt? By what has amounted to only just a hand full of recent posts by you, you have already managed to indirectly give our lady a black eye, dishonor her as our lady and offend of what I am sure, many readers of this forum. Fun is fun, but you never speak of such things when involving Coach Summitt or her legacy. Go away little girl back to play with your barbie dolls.

Millisa writes:

Happy for Coach Summitt I hope She gave Nobama "The Stare"

Theo writes:

in response to born2ride:

Great honor for Pat.

Voting against Obama.

Seen your posts before - no surprise. Limited.

SoddyVol writes:

in response to collegegrovevol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I would add one exception to your Wooden comparison. Pat is completely honest and has zero tainted championships.

MeanieT writes:

in response to Orangejellybean:

Do you not recognize that by your cursing vulgarity, you have just debased this entire thread of what was meant as an honor and to show respect to our lady coach, Ms. Summitt? By what has amounted to only just a hand full of recent posts by you, you have already managed to indirectly give our lady a black eye, dishonor her as our lady and offend of what I am sure, many readers of this forum. Fun is fun, but you never speak of such things when involving Coach Summitt or her legacy. Go away little girl back to play with your barbie dolls.

Jelly Bean, I agree whole-heartedly with you about this new poster. This child needs to just vacate as her kind is not desired here. This is a site for adults with at least some integrity, not juveniles still lounging around in footie pj's, eating popcorn and trying to run with Big Dogs. Little girl, you just cut your own throat.

KikknT writes:

in response to MetroplexMojo:

Leave the political cr@p out of this. This day and the limelight should belong to Coach Summitt. You all will have a chance in November to make your political thoughts known.

HMM, very interesting commentary by one speaking of 'this day and the limelight belonging to Summitt' when within the very next breath, cussed another poster until a fly wouldn't lite on him, literally.

MetroplexMojo writes:

I want to apologize for a comment I made tonight. Given the topic, it was offensive and uncalled for. I was trying to be cute and funny to an obnoxious poster and because of what I said, I became that obnoxious poster. I have asked for the comment to be removed and apologize.

7BLUeBanners writes:

Those kinds of comments and attitudes, uncalled for any time, not just here.

7BLUeBanners + 1

CrankE writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ps11824 writes:

Thank you, kentuck, as I've shouted from the rooftops, decency should never be 'out of style.'

Why it is such a struggle for some to be civil is a mystery to me. Aren't there sites for those ones to go to spew their venom? I understand there will be such a place one day. They say the temps exceed the high 90s such as we have seen the last few days. Nevertheless, such bitterness & vitriol will be welcome there. They offer free fare weekdays, holidays, everyday.

Thank you MMojo, I forgive you. Sometimes we, who care to be courteous, get so offended that we retaliate in a way unbecoming what we claim to be.

A quote from Daniel Boone to Israel, his young son who could not understand why a feller could talk so mean: "When a man has fire in his belly, sparks fly from his mouth."

voloffaith writes:

I got removed by an angry poster who rightfully was removed for being disrespectful to the President of our United States of America....funny all I did was put in some lines from a Bob Dylan song.....and BAM!! It did contain the words devil and Lord...oh my what have we come to????

Jakevol writes:

She's the Mother of the State of Tennessee. What an honor for the Vol Nation to have a lady like her in Washington getting this award. She taught the Lady Vols how to win. She set the standard for others to follow in Girls Basketball. While we in NC understand basketball, what an honor for Pat and the State of Tennessee. Another tradition has become established rich history for the Vols.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to TheVolSnake:

About Pat
We all know her as a Women’s basketball coach, but in my option her influence on personnel is her greatest achievement. Every Lady Vol basketball player who has completed her eligibility at Tennessee has received a college degree or is in the process of completing degree requirements, 45+ coaches were trained by her mainly as players, propelled women’s sports to where they are today. She was the first person ever to win Olympic gold as a player and coach. She became the head coach at the age of 22 and the first two seasons where the only two seasons where she did not win 20 or more games and is the only men's or women's basketball coach in NCAA history to reach 1000 wins. She has never had a losing season. She is the all time winning coach men or women sports. Has two courts named after her and three roads (everyone forget the one in Clarksville TN). She has won 109 games in the NCAA post-season tournament. No other women's basketball program has even played in 100 NCAA tournament games.
Championships 8 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championships (1987,1989,1991,1996,1997,1998,2007,2008)
16-time SEC Champions
(1980, 1985, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011)
15-time SEC Tournament Champions
(1980, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011)
1999: Inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the inaugural class.
2000: Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
April 2000.: Named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century.
2008: Named Best Coach/Manager ESPY Award. Award encompasses all sports college and professional
2009: Named to Sporting News' list of the 50 greatest coaches of all time (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, college basketball, and college football). She is listed in position 11 and the only lady on the list.
2011: Named Sports Illustrated's Sportswoman of the Year, Dec. 6th, 2011 in NYC.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Summitt

Thanks for posting this. All anybody could say is just, "WOW!" Even those of us who have followed the Lady Vols from the beginning need to see all those honors and records and such in one place from time to time, just to remind us that we were real-time witnesses to greatness.

voloffaith writes:

in response to ps11824:

Thank you, kentuck, as I've shouted from the rooftops, decency should never be 'out of style.'

Why it is such a struggle for some to be civil is a mystery to me. Aren't there sites for those ones to go to spew their venom? I understand there will be such a place one day. They say the temps exceed the high 90s such as we have seen the last few days. Nevertheless, such bitterness & vitriol will be welcome there. They offer free fare weekdays, holidays, everyday.

Thank you MMojo, I forgive you. Sometimes we, who care to be courteous, get so offended that we retaliate in a way unbecoming what we claim to be.

A quote from Daniel Boone to Israel, his young son who could not understand why a feller could talk so mean: "When a man has fire in his belly, sparks fly from his mouth."

A very well read book states," Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Oh for the ability to take back the thousands of hurtful words I've said in my life. Thanks God he has 4given me through Jesus HIS son. Now I fight the battle of the tongue(verbal or print) with help to avoid inflicting pain/suffering when not necessary...now seek to tell the truth in love with thoughts of restoring , not tearing down.

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