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NEW YORK, April 7, 2009 – University of Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt has been named the recipient of the 2009 WNBA Inspiring Coach Award in recognition of her profound impact on female athletes and her demonstrated commitment, passion and dedication to work, family and community. A special presentation of the award will be held at a later date during the 2009 WNBA season.
The WNBA introduced the Inspiring Coach Award in 2007 to honor coaches who have positively influenced athletes across numerous levels and whose achievements leave an indelible mark on sports as a whole.
“We are absolutely thrilled to honor Pat Summitt for all of her professional accomplishments,” said WNBA President Donna Orender. “On the court, she is an extraordinary coach who has won eight NCAA Championships and now holds the all-time record for most wins in NCAA history. But what is more important is that she leads with her heart and soul. Her commitment and dedication to the development of women’s sports and her passion for inspiring young athletes to achieve their dreams has been a source of inspiration to us all.”
The all-time winningest basketball coach in NCAA men’s and women’s basketball history, Summitt (1005-193) has cemented her status as a coaching legend during her 35-tenure coaching the Tennessee Lady Vols. She became the first coach in college basketball – man or woman – to reach 1,000 wins on Feb. 5, 2009 with a 73-43 triumph over Georgia. The victory came 12,445 days after Summitt’s first win on Jan. 10, 1975 over Middle Tennessee State, a testament to her unmatched longevity and success.
Under Summitt’s incomparable leadership, the Tennessee Lady Vols have established a legacy as one of the top women’s college basketball programs in the country. She has steered the program to eight NCAA Championships, 28 NCAA Tournament appearances and 27 combined Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The Lady Vols hold multiple NCAA Tournament records, including most games (124), most wins (104), and most appearances (28).
During her tenure, her Lady Vols teams have produced 12 Olympians, 19 Kodak All-Americans on 33 teams, 10 first-round WNBA Draft selections, and 30 WNBA players. Summitt has been similarly impressive off the court in guiding her players. Over her career, she boasts a 100 percent graduation rate for all players who finished their eligibility at Tennessee.
Summitt’s accomplishments have garnered a multitude of honors including seven NCAA and SEC Coach of the Year awards and the Naismith Coach of the Century award in 2000. Both the University of Tennessee, and University of Tennessee at Martin, her alma mater, have renamed their courts to commemorate Summitt’s peerless career.
About the WNBA The WNBA is a unique global sports property combining competition, sportsmanship and entertainment value with its status as an icon for social change, achievement and diversity. Comprised of 13 teams, the WNBA is the most successful women’s professional team sports league in the world. The league concluded its historic 12th regular season with increases in attendance, ratings, and Web traffic and merchandise sales. The 2009 WNBA season will tip off June 6 on ABC.
Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is deeply committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, increase breast and women’s health awareness, support youth and family development, and focus on education. For more information on the WNBA, log on to www.wnba.com