Pat Summitt on Wheaties box

Pat Summitt didn't head straight to the locker room at halftime Thursday evening. Instead she headed for mid-court to help unveil a post player size box of Wheaties that featured her photo, the Summitt court and the Lady Vols logo in a combination of icons – the basketball coach and the cereal giant.

University of Tennessee President Dr. John Petersen told the crowd of 7,175 that Pat Summitt was the first female coach to ever appear on a box of Wheaties. Summitt helped pull off the covering from the large cardboard mockup of the cereal box and took the microphone to thank General Mills, the university, the fans and every student-athlete "who wore the orange."

Summitt told the crowd to "go buy your Wheaties box" and then took off to the locker room to address her team, which held a 37-11 halftime lead over South Carolina – the fewest first-half points ever scored by an SEC opponent against Tennessee – and went on to win, 72-36, at Thompson-Boling Arena.

It was Summitt's 933rd career win in a coaching tenure that is well into its 33rd season. Her list of accomplishments includes six national titles, 16 Final Fours, 25 Sweet Sixteen appearances – every year the NCAA tourney has been held – six SEC coach of the year awards, seven NCAA coach of the year nods and the Naismith Coach of the Century award in 2000.

"The Tennessee women's basketball team has left a distinctive mark in the world of college basketball by showcasing unparalleled performance, a competitive drive, a sense of pride and dedication over the years," said Dan Stangler, Wheaties brand manager. "Wheaties is proud to feature Coach Summitt and honor the championship tradition and the caliber of play the team consistently brings to collegiate basketball."

The boxes will be sold regionally in grocery and other retail stores. Summitt strikes a pensive pose on the front of the box and is wearing an orange blouse under a pinstriped jacket. The back of the box has a photo of Summitt standing near the scorer's table and signaling a play and also features a photo of Smokey the mascot.

For those fans who like to read the back of cereal boxes with their breakfast bowl there is some background on Summitt along with the information about her 100 percent graduation rate for student-athletes who complete their eligibility.

The closing words: "Lady Vols basketball and Pat Summitt: True Champions! Go Lady Vols!'

The large mockup box was propped up in the post-game press conference room after the game.

"Man, that's amazing right there," junior point guard Shannon Bobbitt said as she looked at the box. "I like that. That's nice."

Summitt was asked what she thought about being on the box.

"I never really thought about being on the cover of a Wheaties box," Summitt said with a smile. "When they told me I think obviously it's a tremendous honor for the program. The reason I'm on the Wheaties box is because we've had more All-Americans, more Olympians and just years of players that would come here and compete.

"We've had great fan support, which helps us. It helps us win a lot at home. And obviously the support of the university from the very top they've given us the resources to be successful. I have great staff. This is all about the university and the Lady Vol program."

So coach, what's for breakfast tomorrow?

"Wheaties," Summitt said. "What's yours? You'd better have Wheaties."


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