Coach K, Pat Summitt are the Sportspeople of the Year

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Sports Illustrated tapped the two biggest winners in college basketball for their biggest honor. Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt? Easy choices.

But honestly? I figured they’d both already been Sportsperson of the Year.

Considering Coach K won his fourth NCAA tournament in 2010 and Summitt won her eighth in 2008, it doesn’t come off as a timely award. Sure, he passed Bob Knight on all men’s D-I all-time wins list this season and Summitt’s impressing people by continuing to coach despite her diagnosis of early onset dementia.

If no other athlete or coach had a banner season, it’s tough to deny either coach is unworthy. SI rightly calls them “transcendent figures” who are essentially the faces of their sports. Can’t really argue there.

And there’s more. From Alexander Wolff:

Moreover, by recognizing Krzyzewski and Summitt this year we’re setting the table for 2012. That’s when Coach K will bring a team of American pros to the London Olympics as the presumptive favorite; and when the coach who insists that her players call her “Pat” will mark, with a well-deserved sense of proprietorship, the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, the law that touched off the boom in women’s sports that has delivered so many iconic female stars, teams and moments.

Duke players were elated for their coach, while Summitt called it a “tremendous honor.”

It’s amazing these two could’ve won this award at any point in the last 25 years, but next year may be the peak for both. Just as impressive? Only two college basketball coaches (John Wooden and Dean Smith) and six coaches total (Joe Paterno, Terry Francona, Herb Brooks and Tony DiCicco) have ever won this thing.

Nice call, SI.

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