The UT women's basketball team defeated Tennessee 63-62 Saturday night at the Erwin Center. Texas coach Jody Conradt chats with Tennessee coach Pat Summitt before the game. (12/21/02 Staff Photo by Peter Yang AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Women's Basketball

Texas remembers Pat Summitt as ‘mentor, coach, mother, role model and friend’

Posted June 28th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • Texas and Tennessee have played each other every season for the last 34 years — and 37 times in all. The Lady Vols lead the series, 23-14.
  • There are only six women's basketball programs that have won 1,000 or more games — Tennessee, Louisiana Tech, James Madison, Old Dominion, Texas and Stanford.
  • Pat Summitt and Jody Conradt combined for 1,998 career wins. Both are Hall of Famers and have been close friends for more than four decades.

The Texas and Tennessee women’s programs, UT women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky said Tuesday, have long shared a special rivalry that was certainly competitive, yet also friendly.

The schools’ women’s basketball teams have played each other 37 times. Both were led by Hall of Fame coaches who remain among the winningest women’s coaches of all time.

On Tuesday, Texas officials recalled the impact that former Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt — who died early Tuesday morning at the age of 64 — had on the game.

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Conradt: True impact was as mentor, leader, coach

“My 30-plus year friendship with Pat Summitt is one I will always cherish, especially in a business that doesn’t always breed genuine friendship. When I think of women’s basketball, I instantly think of Pat Summitt because she’s truly synonymous with women’s basketball. It was evident, even in her early coaching years, that she’d leave her footprints on our game.

“Her passion, her fire, her love and knowledge of the game, put her in an elite class of coaches. In the coaching profession, one is judged by her victories and Pat’s teams certainly won a ton of games. But when I think about her greatest impact, I think about the young women she coached and mentored, and how fortunate they were to have Pat as a leader and coach, and how blessed I have been to have her as a friend.”

— Jody Conradt, former Texas coach (1976-2007)

Aston: She changed how we view women’s sports leaders

“Not only is the women’s basketball coaching community deeply affected by the passing of Pat Summitt, but the world of sports is surely mourning with us today. We have lost a legendary mentor, coach, mother, role model and friend who truly changed the way we all view women in sports leadership.

“I personally grew up admiring her passion for basketball, but most importantly, her vision of helping young girls grow into confident women. We will all be forever grateful that she touched our lives in the manner that she did, and should celebrate her life and influence as we remember her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Summitt family, as well as the entire Lady Vol community.”

— Karen Aston, Texas coach

Plonsky: Summitt, modern era of women’s sports intertwined

“The modern era of collegiate women’s sports and Pat Summitt’s coaching career are intertwined. There were NCAA championships and Olympic gold, but also hundreds of young women whose lives were impacted by higher education and college degrees.

“Texas Athletics always has felt a special competitive bond with Tennessee, as administrations at both institutions made early commitments to supporting Title IX and opportunities for women in sport and education. Pat’s first NCAA title was achieved at our Frank Erwin Special Events Center in 1987. We join with the Lady Vols today in expressing our love and appreciation for Pat and her life’s work.”

— Chris Plonsky, Texas women’s athletic director

TEXAS VS. TENNESSEE: A LOOK BACK

The University of Texas unveiled a 7 foot tall statue of former women's basketball coach Jody Conradt at the Frank Erwin Center in 2012. Former University of Tennessee women's basketball coach, Pat Summitt, flashes the
The University of Texas unveiled a 7 foot tall statue of former women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt at the Frank Erwin Center in 2012. Former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt, flashes the “hook ’em horns” hand signal during the event. (10.05.12 Laura Skelding/AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
  • The Longhorns and Lady Vols have played each other 37 times. Tennessee leads the all-time series, 23-14.
  • Texas and Tennessee are two of only six women’s basketball programs that have won 1,000 games — Tennessee (1,299), Louisiana Tech (1,101), James Madison (1,045), Old Dominion (1,015), Texas (1,012) and Stanford (1,003).
  • In 1987, early in the 1987-88 season, Texas and Tennessee set a Guinness world record for the biggest crowd at a women’s basketball game — 24,563 at Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena. No. 2 Texas beat No. 1 Tennessee, 97-78.
  • Conradt and Summitt combined for 1,998 career wins. Both are members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • Summitt and Conradt started an annual series with each other in 1982. The teams have played each other for 34 straight years. The Longhorns have taken the last two meetings, including a 64-53 win in Knoxville last November. Before 1982, the teams had played each other only once before, in 1978.

“There was a time when we were struggling and we weren’t competitive,” Conradt said. “There would be a temptation to say, ‘I don’t think we need to play this game because we can’t compete,’ or for their side to say, ‘This isn’t helping us get better.’ That has never even been a consideration for either side. We did this for the good of the game and it has been good for both programs.”

Texas’ 2016-17 schedule hasn’t been released yet. But a UT spokesman said Tuesday that the Longhorns and Lady Vols will meet for the 35th straight year and that this season’s game will be in Austin.

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