WNBA bestows 'inspiring' award on Summitt

Pat Summitt has been named the recipient of the 2009 WNBA Inspiring Coach Award in recognition of her profound impact on female athletes and her demonstrated commitment, passion and dedication to work, family and community. A special presentation of the award will be held at a later date during the 2009 WNBA season.

The WNBA introduced the Inspiring Coach Award in 2007 to honor coaches who have positively influenced athletes across numerous levels and whose achievements leave an indelible mark on sports as a whole.

"We are absolutely thrilled to honor Pat Summitt for all of her professional accomplishments," said WNBA President Donna Orender. "On the court, she is an extraordinary coach who has won eight NCAA Championships and now holds the all-time record for most wins in NCAA history. But what is more important is that she leads with her heart and soul. Her commitment and dedication to the development of women's sports and her passion for inspiring young athletes to achieve their dreams has been a source of inspiration to us all."

The award was to be announced Tuesday by the WNBA.

The all-time winningest basketball coach in NCAA men's and women's basketball history, Summitt, with a record of 1005-193, has cemented her status as a coaching legend during her 35-tenure coaching the Tennessee Lady Vols. She became the first coach in college basketball – man or woman – to reach 1,000 wins on Feb. 5, 2009 with a 73-43 triumph over Georgia. The victory came 12,445 days after Summitt's first win on Jan. 10, 1975, over Middle Tennessee State, a testament to her unmatched longevity and success.

Under Summitt's incomparable leadership, the Tennessee Lady Vols have established a legacy as one of the top women's college basketball programs in the country. She has steered the program to eight NCAA Championships, 28 NCAA Tournament appearances and 27 combined SEC regular-season and tournament titles. The Lady Vols hold multiple NCAA Tournament records, including most games (124), most wins (104), and most appearances (28).

During her tenure, her Lady Vols teams have produced 12 Olympians, 19 Kodak All-Americans on 33 teams, 10 first-round WNBA Draft selections, and 30 WNBA players. Summitt has been similarly impressive off the court in guiding her players. Over her career, she boasts a 100 percent graduation rate for all players who finished their eligibility at Tennessee.

Summitt's accomplishments have garnered a multitude of honors including seven NCAA and SEC Coach of the Year awards and the Naismith Coach of the Century award in 2000. Both the University of Tennessee and University of Tennessee-Martin, her alma mater, have renamed their courts to commemorate Summitt's peerless career.

WBCA AWARD, TOO: Pat Summitt was honored Monday for her 1,000th career coaching victory at the RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA National Coach of the Year Award Ceremony at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront Grand Ballroom in St. Louis, Mo.

The event was part of the WBCA National Convention, held in conjunction with the Final Four.

The RUSSELL ATHLETIC/WBCA Victory Club Award is presented to each WBCA-member head coach who achieves career wins of 200, 300, 400, 500 or more, in 100 victory increments on both the collegiate and high school levels.

Summitt picked up her 1,000th coaching win on Feb. 5, 2009, over the Georgia Lady Bulldogs in Knoxville. Georgia Coach Andy Landers was also honored with 800 coaching wins.

"Whether Russell Athletic is supporting the WBCA or developing the newest, innovative women's team uniform, our company remains steadfast in its' commitment to women's sports," said Catherine Gammon, senior director of sponsorships. "Russell Athletic is proud to honor the WBCA Victory Club award winners. The dedication of these coaches continues to make a difference in the lives of young student-athletes."

In addition to Summitt, these coaches were honored as well: Sylvia Hatchell, North Carolina, 800 wins, Jan. 11, 2009; Andy Landers, Georgia, 800, Jan. 15, 2009; Richard Lauer, Christway Academy, 800, Jan. 16, 2009; Robin Selvig, Montana, 700, Nov. 26, 2008; Mike Strong, Scranton, 700, Jan. 25, 2009; Colby Tilley, Kennesaw State, 700, Jan. 22, 2009; Gywn Young, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, 700, Dec. 13, 2008; Lonnie Kruse, Sterling College, 600, Jan. 24, 2009; Dave Stricklin, Umpqua Community College, 600, Jan. 7, 2009; Andy Yosinoff, Emmanuel College, 600, Dec. 9, 2008; Mike Durbin, College of St. Benedict, 500, Dec. 10. 2008; Debbie Jackson, Nimitz Senior High School, 500, Feb. 6, 2009; Doug Lechtenberger, John Foster Dulles High School, 500, Feb. 5. 2008; Connie Tilley, St. Norbert College, 500, Jan. 28, 2009; Glenn Wilkes Jr., Rollins College, 500, Jan. 10, 2009; Ann Lee Williams, Minnesota State C&T, 500, Jan. 17, 2009; and Nancy Wilson, College of Charleston, 500, Feb. 16, 2009.

PINK ZONE INITIATIVE: The WBCA announced extraordinary results from its 2009 WBCA Pink Zone initiative. To date, the initiative has unified 1,636 teams and organizations through their participation in the 2009 breast cancer awareness campaign, held February 13-22.

Donations raised thus far surpass $1,362,000 and more than 912,000 fans were reached across the nation. Over 56 schools broke attendance records through participation in the WBCA Pink Zone.

"Our coaches and the women's basketball nation continue to amaze us by their support and participation in this cause," said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. "Their dedication to making a difference spans beyond the perimeters of the gym and shows that there are more important things in our sport than the win-loss column. We have a chance to truly impact our nation by using our voices to raise breast cancer awareness and dollars for research."

The WBCA's charity of choice is the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, in partnership with The V Foundation. All participants in the WBCA Pink Zone are encouraged to send donations to the Fund. This year, 1,251 of the participants donated at least a portion of their proceeds to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, raising over $732,000. The remainder of the proceeds was given to various local and national charities.

"With Coach Yow's passing in January, I really think that it hit home for our coaches to rally around a cause that was so dear to her," said Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund President Marsha Sharp. "Her vision was to unite two of her passions, coaching and cancer research, to leave a lasting legacy in our sport. My hope is that we will continue to gain momentum in raising money for cancer research as a nation of coaches."

"The V Foundation is proud to be partnered with the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund and to be involved with the WBCA Pink Zone initiative," said Nick Valvano, CEO of The V Foundation for Cancer Research. "In just two years, it is phenomenal to see the growth of the Fund and the energy behind the women's basketball community in raising awareness and research."

Several WBCA partners and sponsors were involved in the WBCA Pink Zone initiative. These sponsors and providers included: Russell Athletic (official apparel provider), Nike (Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund Founding Partner), Petrocelli Marketing, Displayability, Jostens, Wilson and girls got game. They each donated a portion of any proceeds to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund.

The NCAA joined the cause by implementing the "Calling for a Cure" campaign where all NCAA women's basketball officials blew a pink whistle February 13-22 and were encouraged to make a donation to the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund. ESPN also joined the initiative by dedicating their annual "February Frenzy" women's college basketball games on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com to supporting the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund, in partnership with The V Foundation.

Along with the NCAA and ESPN, other supporting organizations included: CBS College Sports Network, Fox Sports, National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA), National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA), Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), NCAA Conference offices, The Hartford (Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund Founding Partner) and many more.

The 2010 WBCA Pink Zone dates will be February 12-22.

Additional information about the fund can be found at: Kay Yow Fund.

ESPNU Road to the Championship: The ESPNU event will be played Nov. 17, 2009, at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas and Texas Tech will take part in the doubleheader televised by ESPN2 and ESPNU.

Five-time national champion Connecticut will take on Texas in a game televised by ESPN2. Tennessee, which has won eight NCAA titles including the past two in 2007 and 2008, faces Texas Tech in the other game on ESPNU. The doubleheader will be played at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, the same city that will host the NCAA Women's Final Four at the end of the 2009-10 season at the Alamodome.

Tickets for the ESPNU Road to the Championship are on sale now. Ticket prices are $8, $13, $23 and $38, and tickets can be purchased at: ATT Center or Ticketmaster or by calling the AT&T Center at (210) 224-9600.

"We are excited to host some of the most storied programs in women's basketball in San Antonio," said Clint Overby, senior director of events, ESPN Regional Television. "The combination of the AT&T Center along with the city of San Antonio creates a wonderful backdrop to what will be a great showcase event."

San Antonio will be hosting its second NCAA Women's Final Four in 2009-10. The city also hosted the 2002 event at the Alamodome, with Connecticut winning the championship.

"We are excited to be hosting these amazing women's college basketball teams at the AT&T Center," said John Sparks, vice president and general manager of the AT&T Center. "It allows us to showcase their talents and expose a new set of fans to the arena."

Travel packages are available exclusively through Anthony Travel, the official travel provider for the ESPNU Road to the Championship. Fans can make their reservations by visiting AnthonyTravel and searching "ESPNU" or by calling 1-888-632-6951.

"We are very excited and honored to be opening our season against national power Tennessee in the 2010 Final Four host city, San Antonio," said Texas Tech head coach Kristy Curry. "San Antonio does a great job of hosting and supporting NCAA events. We are excited for our team and Lady Raider Nation to have this type of game early in the season."

"We enjoyed playing in the 2007 ESPNU Tip-Off in Tampa vs. Big 12 foe Oklahoma, and we were fortunate to revisit the Tampa-St. Pete area for the 2008 Final Four," Pat Summitt said. "Likewise, I look forward to playing in the 2009 ESPNU Invitational vs. Texas Tech in San Antonio, home of the 2010 Final Four. It will be an exciting field and will showcase four of the nation's top teams in two great contests."

"It's important to test yourself early against elite teams to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses," said Texas Coach Gail Goestenkors. "Testing ourselves at the beginning of the season against Connecticut will not only help us prepare for the Big 12 Conference season, it will help us better ourselves as a team. Not only are we beginning the season at San Antonio, but we also hope to end our season in San Antonio."

"I think it is terrific to have an opportunity to participate in an event that features quality competition and positively promotes the game in the way the ESPNU Road to the Championship has the potential to do," said Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma. "It should be exciting for players, coaches and fans to have the chance to compete at the site of that season's Final Four."

The ESPNU Road to the Championship, formerly known as the ESPNU Invitational, was first played Nov. 15, 2007, in St. Petersburg, Fla. In that doubleheader, Duke defeated South Florida, 89-52, and Tennessee edged Oklahoma, 70-67. The Lady Vols returned to St. Petersburg at the end of that season to win the NCAA championship.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories