President Barack Obama announced Thursday he was awarding retiring University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the country's highest civilian honor.
"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," Obama said in a statement one day after Summitt stepped down as the Lady Vols' coach.
"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," the president said. The White House statement noted that Summitt "has taken Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball" and dubbed her "an unparalleled figure in women's team sports."
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