KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Pat Summitt, head coach emeritus of the Lady Vols basketball team, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
President Barack Obama announced the honor on Thursday.
The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. It is presented to people who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., 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," President Obama said.
"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," he added.
Coach Summitt has taken Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball.
She has received numerous awards including being named Naismith Women's Collegiate Coach of the Century.
"As we approach the 40th anniversary of the signing of Title IX, Summitt's remarkable career reflects her rightful place in history as an unparalleled figure in women's team sports," the president said.
"Off the court, Pat's work as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund is truly inspirational."
Coach Summitt was notified last week of the president's decision to award her with the medal.
The remainder of the honorees will be announced over the coming weeks. The awards will be presented at a White House ceremony later this year.
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