ESPN President John Skipper and others offer praise for Pat Summitt

Former Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt (l) with host Trey Wingo and analysts Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck during ESPN's coverage of the 2009 Women's Final Four

With Wednesday’s announcement that legendary University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt has been named Head Coach Emeritus for the Lady Vols, voices from all over the world of sports chimed in with kind words and heartfelt wishes for the women’s basketball pioneer.

ESPN’s relationship with Coach Summitt goes back many years and includes so many of the Hall of Famer’s most memorable moments.

ESPN President John Skipper and others in the ESPN family were quick to put Coach Summitt’s career — and her impact on women’s athletics — into perspective.

“Pat Summitt’s legacy as one of the all-time greatest coaches and leaders in any sport is firmly in place,” Skipper said. “Her impact on women’s basketball, the athletes who played for her and the many lives she continues to inspire with her grace and courage cannot be captured in mere words. We wish her the best.”

ESPN basketball analysts Carolyn Peck and Kara Lawson, both have strong ties to Summitt.

Peck began her coaching career as an assistant at Tennessee under Summitt (1993-95) and Lawson played for the legendary coach as a Lady Vol from 1999-2003, with three NCAA Women’s Final Four appearances during that time.

“This year she showed great courage after the announcement of the disease, early onset dementia, and throughout the season I can’t imagine how tough that was on her — for her players, for her staff –- to be there every day but in a different role. You could tell the disease has had some effect on her,” Peck said on SportsCenter.

“[The fact she will be Head Coach Emeritus] is priceless,” she said. “Pat Summitt is still Pat Summitt. She will be the icon around that program that you can put your hands on. She made it, she built it, she set a standard for it. Pat wasn’t up on the sidelines this year, but she still had that individual effect on each of the players for getting the most out of them. She’s a great motivator, fantastic teacher and a great role model.”

Lawson, also commenting on SportsCenter, said: “It’s the end of the most impressive era in women’s college basketball history.

“This is a woman whose impact will never be equaled. To be able to have played for her, to have learned so much from her, to understand that you were one of the select few that had a chance to be tutored by her and learn on our feet.”

Beginning Wednesday night and continuing through Thursday, ESPN will celebrate the career of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt across multiple platforms.

ESPNU and ESPN3 will carry Tennessee’s formal news conference of the announcement live Thursday, April 19, at 1:30 p.m. ET. SportsCenter will also offer coverage with George Smith reporting from Knoxville, Tenn.

For a full schedule of ESPN’s Pat Summitt programming and coverage, please visit ESPN MediaZone.

  • Maureen (live in CT, but a Lady Vols fan)

    To John Skipper; thank you so much for for covering Coach Summitt’s press conference today, but most of all, for all of your thoughtful and genuine insight you shared about the Coach. As a long time Lady Vols fan, and even more so a Coach Summitt fan, I sincerely appreciated ESPN airing all of those great games Wednesday into late Thursday night. It has been a truly cathartic experience and has brought back so many good memories. Women in sports has come a long way, much of that gratitude belongs to Coach Summitt with the help of ESPN, ESPN2, and so on. A very classy gesture for ESPN these last couple of days. Thank You again. Bleeding and Crying Orange, Maureen Jungers