The University of Tennessee has decided that it will honor head coach emeritus Pat Summitt, raising a banner at Thompson-Boling Arena on January 28 when the Lady Vols host Notre Dame.
Summitt, who won eight national titles and never missed the NCAA tournament in her 31 years as head coach in Knoxville, was diagnosed with early onset dementia before the 2011-12 season and retired in April 2012.
Holly Warlick, a former player and longtime assistant under Summitt, is in her first season as head coach and the Volunteers are currently ranked ninth nationally with a 14-3 record (5-0 SEC).
Five Lady Vols, including Warlick, who played under Summitt currently have their jersey number in the rafters so it only makes sense that the school do the same for her.
“We are thrilled to honor Pat and her outstanding career,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said during Friday’s announcement. “She is a legend who transcends women’s basketball.
“This banner will serve as yet another reminder of the impact Coach Summitt has at our University and throughout the country. Her integrity, class and competitiveness continue to inspire the world of sports and, now, the fight to beat Alzheimer’s.”
In addition to the eight national titles, 18 trips to the Final Four and 31 NCAA tournament appearances, Summitt led Tennessee to 16 SEC regular season and 16 SEC tournament titles.
“It will be quite an honor to join those with a banner already hanging in the rafters at Thompson-Boling Arena,” Summitt said on Friday. “I appreciate the honor and feel very blessed to have been able to spend my entire career at the University of Tennessee. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities afforded me by such a great institution.”
The court at Thompson-Boling Arena was named in Summitt’s honor following a win over Purdue on March 22, 2005. Volunteer fans hope that this pregame ceremony will help push the current team to a memorable win over the Fighting Irish.