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Pat Summitt to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

Pat Summitt

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt waves to the crowd during a half-time ceremony to honor past olympic coaches at an NCAA women’s Final Four semifinal college basketball game between the Baylor and the Stanford, in Denver, Sunday, April 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)


Just one day after announcing that she would no longer be head coach at the University of Tennessee, it was learned that Pat Summitt will receive the country’s highest civilian honor.

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that Summitt would receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

“Coach Summitt is an inspiration - both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer’s,” said President Obama in a statement.

“Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched.

Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”

Summitt, who is now the school’s head coach emeritus, has used the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund to help fund research for a cure of Alzheimer’s and that work will continue in her new role.

Other recipients of the award will be announced in the coming weeks with a ceremony to be held later this year.

This is likely the first of many awards to be given to Summitt in the coming weeks and months, and rightfully so given her impact on the sports world.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.