“I was walking out of my house after lunch with one eye on ESPN when the press conference started. Suddenly, I couldn’t move. I was literally frozen in time watching Pat fight back tears saying farewell. I remembered the first time I had met her as a sophomore in college, literally a lifetime ago. Now, today, it was over, just like that. I did what we all do at times like this and started reminiscing. I saw the genesis of her career at UT from a front-row seat and what a time it was. We used to sit together on the school charter plane and talk about her life and how much she had enjoyed playing in the Olympics (1976). I saw her as someone in her early 20’s, at the beginning of the most successful coaching career this side of John Wooden, and now, 35 years later, tears welled in my eyes, because what I was seeing on my small television set felt like a corkscrew through my heart. I didn’t need Pat saying farewell to remind me I was no longer a teenager, but it was perhaps, the most sobering shot of reality I’ve ever received. How could someone just a few years older than me, someone I have known my entire adult life, have to walk away from this career because of that? Then, suddenly, I woke up and quit feeling sorry for myself because time had marched on. I am still able to work every day with no health issues. My life is good. I got in my car and finished listening to the press conference, with tears running down my cheek and my heart breaking for Pat Summitt. I had a lot of company.”
— Paul Finebaum, Daily Beacon sports editor 1977-78
Host of the Paul Finebaum Radio Network

    “A few years ago I came to Knoxville to do a column on Candace Parker. An interview time was set up at the basketball offices — first with Pat Summitt and then later with Candace. The late morning interview time came and went — and still no Pat. So I killed time in a meeting room, where I found an assortment of books autographed personally by the great Dan Jenkins. Dan is one of the greatest sportswriters of any generation. He also wrote a series of groundbreaking novels and he has an absolute soft spot for college football. His daughter is the gifted Washington Post columnist, Sally Jenkins, whom UT followers also know from her book with Pat.
    Anyway, Pat finally walks in and apologizes immediately for her tardiness. So, with a straight face, I say, ‘What would you do if one of your players showed up late for a meeting?’
    She says, ‘Make ’em run the stairs, something like that.’
    I say, ‘Well?’
    There was a slight pause and then Pat roared with laughter. I think she loved the idea of someone busting her a little bit. Plus, it would have been a sports first.
    I’ve been covering sports for the better part of 30 years. There are few genuinely authentic people. And there are fewer genuinely authentic people who transcend their sport with grace, dignity and integrity.
    Pat Summitt is a country girl. She was a nobody who became a somebody. But she didn’t let her fame seep into who she was, where she came from, or how she conducted herself. Her coaching record speaks for itself. Those numbers shout from the top of the Thompson-Boling Arena. But I respect that grace under pressure, that competitiveness, that pride in all things UT and all things honest and pure. But most of all, I love that laugh.”
— Gene Wojciechowski, Daily Beacon Editor-in-Chief 1978-79
ESPN.com senior national columnist

    “I guess I would have been 20 years old when I first started covering the Lady Vols for the Chattanooga newspaper. I say that because Coach Summitt treated me the same as a 20-year veteran of the business. I was learning on the job and she was so graceful and giving of her time to help me do that. That’s something I’ll always remember, illustrated by regular post-practice chat sessions with Pat and Dan Fleser, the News Sentinel’s excellent beat reporter and ultimate nice guy. A few years later, when I was covering the Braves, I saw where she had won her 900th game (she went on to win a lot more, obviously). I decided I would, like so many others, jot her a quick note of congratulations and tell her thanks for always being so kind to me. Imagine my surprise when, a couple of weeks later, I received a handwritten response — in the middle of her season, no less. I didn’t need that to tell me what sort of person Pat Summitt is, but it certainly affirmed it. My heart has ached to see her — and my alma mater — endure this. But I know Coach will use this unique platform for good, for awareness and to demonstrate the innate toughness that allowed her to become one of the most respected individuals in basketball history. I’m thankful, so thankful, that our paths crossed. I’m better for it. As Tennessee alums, we’re all better for having had Pat Summitt in our lives.”

— Travis Haney, Daily Beacon sports editor

2001-02 ESPN Insider’s national college football writer


    “Starting my senior year at Tennessee, I had the good fortune of being the Lady Vols’ beat writer for The Tennessean for two seasons. The first day I went to practice with that title, my predecessor Travis Haney (now with ESPN.com) suggested that I should tell Pat that I wanted to chat with her for a few minutes — not an interview, just a nice meet and greet. Right, Travis. The biggest name in the history of an entire sport wants a little rap session with a scrawny, nerdy kid of a sportswriter that had covered her team only a handful of times at that point. She did, it so happens, want to do exactly that. I covered the team daily alongside News-Sentinel legend Dan Fleser, but an outside observer would never know that he was the veteran on the beat and I was the newbie. She respected us equally — even if she didn’t always like what I wrote. I love my job at Bearden High School, and I can’t imagine my life without teaching. But if they were all as classy as Pat Summitt, I might still be a sportswriter today.”
— Tim Vacek, Daily Beacon sports editor 2002-03
Journalism and AP English teacher at Bearden High School

    “There are few programs at any university, let alone Tennessee, which offer the same consistent success of Pat Summitt’s 38-year tenure with Lady Vols. Summitt’s record separates the coach from her peers, but it’s the manner in which she climbed to more than 1,000 career victories that more aptly defines the basketball icon. In my three years covering the Lady Vols for the Daily Beacon, I witnessed bits and pieces of how Summitt molded her players and her program with relentless expectations. She chastised her team for not being “passionate” about defense after winning an exhibition game — by 50 points — in 2010. She promised that her players would be on the floor running sprints after a 2011 Elite Eight loss to Notre Dame if UT would have allowed it. She let center Kelley Cain skip a road trip to Alabama to attend class in 2010. The coach’s wins and losses tell one story, but looking deeper into what made the coach tick proves what everyone already knows: There will never be another Pat Summitt.”
— Zac Ellis, Daily Beacon Editor-in-Chief 2010-11
SI.com associate producer


    “The only thing more impressive than Pat Summitt’s unbelievable coaching career in general is the generosity and kindness she showed in working with media on a daily basis, whether it was a reporter from the Beacon or the New York Times. She invited media to her home every year for the team’s NCAA tournament selection show viewing party, and she fed reporters — the food was always terrific, of course — and made them feel right at home while they were there. As great of a coach as she was, the thing I always will remember is the incredible lengths to which she went to promote the sport and be accessible to fans and media everywhere she went. She played a huge role in helping the sport of women’s basketball reach its current level of popularity, and that should be her enduring legacy as much as her eight national titles.”
— Ryan Callahan, Daily Beacon sports editor Aug. 2005-Dec. 2005
Senior writer for GVX247.com

    “When getting to know athletes and coaches, you often find out they’re not who you expected them to be. After following the Lady Vols as a kid and in college, I expected the Pat Summitt behind the icy stare to be nothing but a tough disciplinarian, stoic and stern. Though discipline is incredibly important to her and the stare, her trademark, she is so much more than that. She’s warm and welcoming with a fantastic sense of humor. Though I was terrified as a young sports writer as I prepared to interview her for the first time, her sharp wit and friendly demeanor has made her one of the most approachable sports figures I’ve ever interacted with. Covering Summitt and her Lady Vols will forever be the assignment I’m most proud of as a journalist.”
— Beth Rucker, Daily Beacon news editor 2002-03
Covered the Lady Vols for The Associated Press from 2008-12