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Originally published Friday, February 6, 2009 at 12:55 AM


Pat Summitt reaches new heights: 1,000 wins

Pat Summitt, with a withering glare and demanding standards, has made history by becoming the first to reach the unprecedented height of 1,000 career victories.

AP Sports Writer


Pat Summitt, with a withering glare and demanding standards, has made history by becoming the first to reach the unprecedented height of 1,000 career victories.

The Tennessee coach doubts she will be alone forever.

"People are saying that's a record that will never be broken, but I don't think so. Records are made to be broken," Summitt said after becoming the first Division I coach - man or woman - to win 1,000 career games with a 73-43 win over Georgia on Thursday night.

"The fact that this program was the first to do it is a great source of pride for all of us, our administration, our coaches, all the players who have worn the Lady Vols' uniform."

Tennessee rewarded Summitt, 56, with a post-game party that featured a shower of confetti and streamers, jewelry to commemorate 1,000 along with a painting and even a $200,000 bonus. There's also a new contract bringing her pay up to $1.4 million this year and taking her through her 40th season in 2013-2014.

"We're living through an era that will probably never be witnessed again in college basketball," Tennessee men's athletic director Mike Hamilton said after awarding her the game ball. "Sometimes when you're in the middle of that, you don't stop to realize the significance. I'm just trying to take pause and think about it all."

Summitt had wanted to win 1,000 on her home court after No. 900 came on the road in Nashville in 2006. Her baby Lady Vols (17-5, 6-2 Southeastern Conference), featuring seven freshmen, made it happen after blowing their first crack at 1,000 on Monday night with an 80-70 loss at No. 2 Oklahoma.

"We realized this was coming all season," said freshman Kelley Cain. "She's Pat Summitt. Success comes with the name."

These Lady Vols had Summitt joking that they might not be up to the task of winning the 17 games she needed to reach 1,000 this season. They are nothing like the squads that brought Summitt her seventh and eighth national championships the past two seasons.

With their second chance, the Lady Vols took control of the game six minutes in and led by double digits to open the second half. That allowed the more than 16,000 fans to stand with about a minute left and start cheering for the coach, now in her 35th season.

Georgia coach Andy Landers, who has more wins against Summitt than any other coach, was among the first to congratulate her with a hug.

"You just don't see the bar go that high and stay that high very often in anything. Think about it a minute. They've been able to do that for 35 years. Holy cow," Landers said.


The number 1,000 is big enough that even Summitt, who has won at least 20 games in 32 consecutive seasons and 30 games in 18, was a bit stunned.

"It's a wow from the standpoint that I never ever imagined I would coach this long, nor did I ever envision this program winning 1,000 games. It certainly is a time for me to reflect and think about all those players who scored all those points," she said.

"We've had more All-Americans, more Olympians than anyone in the game thanks to the administration's commitment to the women's game."

Summitt is not only the first to 1,000 Division I victories - she might be the only one for a long time. The only coaches with at least 900 wins are Bob Knight (902), the former men's coach at Indiana and Texas Tech currently working in TV, and retired Texas women's coach Jody Conradt (900).

"Everyone who has been involved in athletics knows every once in a while it may take a couple of generations you get to see something very unique and very special," said Billie Moore, who coached Summitt in the 1976 Olympics and was in the stands cheering her on. "It's probably not ever going to happen again, at least not in your lifetime. This is one of those moments."

Summitt joked that her reaching 1,000 might be why Knight may be thinking about coaching again.

This landmark win came on the court named "The Summitt" in honor of the coach who just keeps racking up achievements for others to chase. That was important to Summitt, especially with a road trip to No. 11 Florida on Sunday.

Summitt won her first game at home, and Nos. 300, 800 and 880 - the one that pushed her past North Carolina's Dean Smith for most wins by a Division I coach - also came in Knoxville. On the night she passed Smith, the school renamed the court for Summitt.

She had former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer and men's basketball coach and close friend Bruce Pearl cheering her from a luxury suite with SEC commissioner Mike Slive in the stands.

Neither Summitt's mother, who has been ill recently, nor the coach's son, who had his own high school basketball game to play, were in the arena to celebrate with her.

She went ahead and added to another victory total by winning her 40th overall against Georgia, her 16th in this series in Knoxville. Glory Johnson finished with a career-high 20 points to lead the Lady Vols. Alex Fuller had 13, Kelley Cain added 12 and Angie Bjorklund 11.

Georgia (15-8, 5-3) was led by Christy Marshall with 16 points, Ashley Houts had 11 and Porsha Phillips 10.

"She's one heck of a coach," Marshall said.

As busy as Summitt has been, her expectations haven't changed.

"We may be young and we may be inexperienced, but our goal is to be in St. Louis at the Final Four. And that is something that we talk about," she said. "I think you've got a vision, you have to talk about that vision. We have a vision, and that's where we want to be."

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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