Women’s hoops benefit from Summitt bequest

The late Pat Head Summitt, head coach emeritus of the Tennessee Lady Vols, has bequeathed $200,000 to the UTM Skyhawk women’s basketball program.

The bequest, one of several financial donations from Summitt over the years, will be used for scholarship and for the operations of the basketball program. Summitt played basketball at UTM  for head coach Nadine Gearin from 1970-74. She led the then-Lady Pacers to a combined 64-30 record, two AIAW district tournament championships, one AIAW Tennessee state tournament title, one AIAW regional championship and an appearance in the 1972 AIAW national tournament.

“Pat wanted to give back to her alma mater,” said Charley Deal, associate vice chancellor for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. “She never forgot her roots.”

Summitt’s previous donations include funds for her sorority sisters of Chi Omega to help with its new sorority lodge. The Chi Omega Lodge will be named “The Pat Head Summitt Chi Omega House.” Summitt also had donated to help finance the statues outside the Kathleen and Tom Elam Center. The statues are of Summitt as a basketball player, coach Gearin and Bettye Giles, the women’s athletics director. They were unveiled during Homecoming 2012.

Summit died in June 2016 from complications of Alzheimer’s.

According to UTM Sports Information, Summitt left UTM as the program’s all-time leading scorer. Not long after Summitt graduated from UTM with a degree in physical education, she took over as head women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee in 1974. It was there where she established herself as one of the best coaches in the history of basketball.

Summitt and her son Tyler formed the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund in November 2011, three months after she announced her diagnosis of early onset dementia.

Summitt was a charter member of UTM’s Hall of Fame in 1983. Her retired No. 55 jersey hangs in the rafters of the Elam Center, overseeing where both Skyhawk basketball teams play on Pat Head Summitt Court. In 1997, a street on the south end of the UT Martin campus was officially named Pat Head Summitt Drive.

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