Who is the Greatest Coach in NCAA History? Part 1 – Pat Summitt

In my mind college sports is the only arena where athletes/players are not the actual stars of their respective teams, it’s the actual head coach who is more prominent with celebrity moreso than just being the figurehead of the team.

The obvious reasons are because of their longevity in the position, their pay, their effect on the game and their lasting impact from where they started on the game itself.

The following series will attempt to answer the question that nags at people during the most most heated of arguments when we’re around the water cooler.

Who is the greatest coach in all off NCAA Division 1 sports history?

Pat Summitt

Summitt became the head coach of the Lady Vols in 1974 at the age of 22, and represented the United States as a player in the 1976 Olympics, winning a silver medal, the first that recognized women’s basketball. Summitt was head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team when it won Olympic gold in 1984.

There was never any money appropriated for women’s sports at the collegiate level, Pat Summitt changed that.

When there was no money for road trips they had to stay in the opponents gymnasium overnight and sleep, when the games weren’t being watched she was a force to be reckoned with to make sure that they ended up being nationally televised, when the men had bigger locker rooms she fought for the women’s side to have the same as the man and ended up getting a locker room just as big.

You may think these things are trivial and don’t matter but when you go through the struggle, everything matters.

When Pat started coaching (1974), there wasn’t any reason that any other school anywhere couldn’t have done what she did. She didn’t have any better resources than anybody else. She just worked harder and she was just better at it. She’s never looked back. The only person who’s been able to compete with her is (Connecticut’s) Geno Auriemma. In all this time, Pat has had only one serious competitor. I think that’s amazing.

Bobby Knight on Pat Summitt

In nearly 40 years of dominance, Pat Summitt’s accomplishments speak for themselves as when she retired she was the most winningest coach in Division 1 college basketball history in both men’s and women’s with 1,098 victories and 208 losses (.841). She became the first head coach to reach 1,000 victories in men’s and women’s college basketball history.

She took Tennessee to 16 SEC regular season titles, 16 SEC tournament championships, 31 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament, 18 Final Four appearances, and 8 national championships titles. She was named SEC coach of the year 8 times, and NCAA coach of the year 7 times.

She was so phenomenal that she had the honor of being named the “Naismith Coach of the Century” in 2000 for the 1900’s.

The Sporting News named the 50 Greatest Coaches of All-Time, voting Pat Summitt as the 11th best of all-time and was the only woman on the list in 2009, now she’s 13 on the new list they did in 2016. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame on June 5, 1999, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on October 13, 2000, and the FIBA Hall of Fame on June 19, 2013.

KNOXVILLE, TN/USA JUNE 4, 2018: Pat Summitt statue and memorial on the the campus of the University of Tennessee. Photo by Ken Wolter

In 1997 Pat Summitt became first female coach to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated after taking her team to an undefeated season with a 39-0 record winning their sixth national championship.

Pat Summitt announced her retirement in August 2012, because she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers in 2011at the age of 59, she died  in 2016 at the of 64.

There will never ever be another Pat Summitt, and in my estimation she will forever be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in all sports.