Pat Summitt Retirement Press Conference Transcript

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dave Hart Opening Statement
"I could speak - as many of you could, all of you could - from the heart about Pat Summitt for hours. I don't think that would be hard for anybody in the arena today. I could reference her accomplishments within the competitive arena and that would take hours, because no one else has accomplished what Pat Summitt has accomplished in the sport of basketball. The accomplishments are actually staggering and even though I've looked at them many times, particularly yesterday and this morning, you think to yourself `Somebody is making this stuff up.' When you look at the number of championships, the number of NCAA appearances and the number of wins, it truly goes into that category where you think it's surreal in nature. But it's not surreal. It's very real indeed. I told Pat yesterday morning in a conversation we had that I felt truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her this past basketball season and I really look forward to working with her in her new role this coming year.

"When I said that, the emotion that I felt really had nothing to do with her coaching career. It was emotional for me, but it was more about who she is as a person and a mother. That's where she really excels. I've always said this having coached. When you've coached and while you're coaching, you can ask yourself two very simplistic questions if you want to gauge your level of success outside the competitive arena. I think the first question is `Did I make a difference?' The second question is `Did I have a positive impact on the young people that I coached and mentored? Did I help them grow as people and make them better people?'

"The first question, no one has ever made more of a difference for the university that they represented than Pat Summitt. No one has ever coached the game at a higher level or coached the sport that they loved than Pat Summitt. There will never be another Pat Summitt.

"I think when you look at question number two, `Did I impact the lives of the young people that I coached and mentored in a positive way?' Exhibit A, all you have to do is talk to a current or former player to get that very direct response because they represent tangible evidence to the answer to the second question.

"I also want to take a moment to recognize Tyler Summitt because it's been my pleasure to get to know Tyler Summitt very well over these last six months. I've said this to Tyler and I've said it to his mom, he is mature well beyond his years. His parents raised him very, very well. He's an extraordinary, extraordinary young person - in every way, he's extraordinary. And I can say that first-hand, from observing first-hand who he is, what he's done, how much he loves his mother and the respect he holds.

"When he called recently to tell me that he had been offered and accepted a coaching job at Marquette, it took me a day to wipe the smile off my face. That's a wonderful opportunity. And Tyler, all you've got to do is post 1,099 wins and you'll blow past your mother.

"Pat is a rare coach in so many ways, and one of those ways is she doesn't know what an average season looks like - particularly by normal standards, she doesn't know that. But nothing's normal about Pat Summitt's standards in any way, shape or form. If we could all live our lives by Pat Summitt's standards, we'd be way, way better for it.

"Before I turn it over to Pat, I want to recognize someone else who's a legend in her own right, a woman who also has meant so much to this university, so much to women's athletics nationally, worked with Pat side by side for so many years - Joan Cronan.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I now turn the microphone over to the game's greatest coach, our own coach, Pat Summitt."

Pat Summitt Opening Statement
"Thank you, Dave. I made some notes because this really means a lot to me to be here today. Yesterday illustrated to me how the Good Lord has a plan for my life. Wasn't it interesting as I stepped aside as head coach, my son Tyler stepped into a game as an assistant with Marquette women's basketball? I can tell you I'm so proud of Tyler.

"38 years ago this month - I want you to listen to this - I received a letter from Dr. Helen B. Watson of the University of Tennessee asking me if I'd be willing to coach the women's basketball team. Listen to this. All Dr. Watson offered me was $250 a month - I mean, I was bouncing checks all over the place - and the opportunity to teach and get my Master's degree. She said that the team had excellent potential and that they would be happy to have me as their coach. I can say I have been happy to be your coach.

"Growing up on a dairy farm in Henrietta, Tennessee - I doubt anybody has been there other than Tyler and myself - it really was a great ride for me. I learned from my parents about the work that we had to do and the work we must love to do. I can tell you I have loved my work at the University of Tennessee. It's been awesome. I can say for almost four decades, It has been a privilege to make and impact on the lives of 161 women who have been worn the orange. I'm so proud of them, the Lady Vol student-athletes. It's an honor to see them graduate and become successful young women. Together, with these young women, a great staff and a supportive administration, we will have taken a magnificent journey.

"We have grown the game of women's basketball each and every day along the way supported by the best fans in the country. No doubt. I think we can all agree on that. We have managed to win some ball games and hang championship banners in Thompson-Boling Arena. I made a choice early in my career to challenge myself to step up my game each and every day. You can be sure that I will take this same attitude into my new role as head coach emeritus and continue to teach our players the same commitment. I can promise you ladies, I'm here for you. Trust me that will happen. The success of the Lady Vols will always, always continue. I hope to build a new success with the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.

"Finally, I have a special message and challenge to our fans and our supporters. You have helped to make Lady Vol Basketball very special. I need you right now - I want you to listen to this - to step up more than ever to support our new head coach Holly Warlick. Holly, I want you to come up here. It is now time to turn over my whistle to you. Thank you."


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