Legendary college basketball coach Pat Summitt dies

Pat Summitt, the former coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team, pictured in 2008 (AFP Photo/Doug Benc)

Washington (AFP) - Pat Summitt, the iconic former coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team, died Tuesday at the age of 64.

Summitt was diagnosed in August 2011 with early onset Alzheimer's disease. She coached one more year before stepping down.

She is survived by her son, Tyler, who announced her death.

"It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt.

She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most."

Summitt finished her 38-year coaching career with 1,098 wins and eight national titles for the Lady Vols.

She was mourned across the country, with President Barack Obama, an unabashed fan, calling her a role model to millions, including his two daughters.

"Her unparalleled success includes never recording a losing season in 38 years of coaching‎, but also, and more importantly, a 100 percent graduation rate among her players who completed their athletic eligibility," said Obama, who awarded Summitt the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"Her legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat's intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder and live with courage on and off the court.

"As Pat once said in recalling her achievements, 'What I see are not the numbers. I see their faces.'"

Summitt is a member of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the FIBA Hall of Fame.

Obama recalled that she won Olympic medals as both a player and coach, and that when she began her college coaching career, women's basketball was so far down the ladder of sporting importance that she had to wash her players' uniforms herself.

"By the time Pat stepped down as the Lady Vols' head coach, her teams wore eight championship rings and had cut down nets in sold-out stadiums," Obama said.

"She'll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many -- she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure," Tyler Summitt said.

"We will all miss her immensely."