Blue Devil Coaches Reflect on Legacy of Pat Summitt


Legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt had a huge impact on all of the sports world and two Duke coaches in particular.

The sports world was saddened after the announcement that coaching legend Pat Summitt passed away earlier this week after suffering from early-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s. She had a profound impact on several Duke coaches who recently discussed the legacy of the Hall of Fame coach.

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Duke Women’s Basketball head coach Joanne P. McCallie came across Pat Summitt several times throughout her coaching career. Summitt and McCallie coached against each other in the SEC when Coach P was an assistant at Auburn, helped McCallie earn her first head coaching job at the University of Maine by writing a reference, and the two coaches also met in the 2005 Final Four when McCallie led the Spartans in a huge upset of Tennessee.

McCallie described Summitt as “the heart and soul of women’s basketball” and someone she admired so much she actually apologized for beating her team in the 2005 semifinals. Check out her radio interview with The Sports Shop describing her relationship with the Hall of Fame coach and her thoughts on Pat Summitt’s passing here.

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Men’s Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski also got to know Coach Summitt throughout the years. The two coaches earned Co-Sportsman/Sportswoman of the Year from Sports Illustrated in 2011 as both were honored for their success in college basketball in addition to their impact off the court. They are currently the two winningest college basketball coaches ever, with Summitt still holding the all-time wins record for any Division I coach with 1,098 career victories to Coach K’s 1,043.

Krzyzewski had high respect for Pat Summitt and regards her as “one of the greatest coaches in any sport“.  Both of these Coach K and Summitt won multiple national titles, excelled in leading their college basketball programs over the span of multiple decades, led USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball to Olympic gold medals, and honored in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The Duke coach recently spoke on the legacy of Pat Summitt while on the NBA’s XM Radio Station which can be seen below:

Duke Football coach David Cutcliffe was also greatly impacted by the legacy of Pat Summitt while he was still an up-and-coming football coach. Cutcliffe spent 19 years in Knoxville with Summitt while he was an assistant coach and coordinator for the Tennessee football team. He notes how the time spent with Summitt helped make him “a better person and coach“.

Cutcliffe mentions how he’s always admired the way she motivated her players to excel on the court and in life and how she was able to be an “incredible educator” and a great coach. There’s no doubt Pat Summitt had a major impact on women’s college basketball and sports in general and she will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time.