Summitt First Riverwalk of Fame Recipient

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Summitt First Riverwalk of Fame Recipient

Posted: 02/06/2009
University of Tennessee Women's Basketball Coach Pat Summitt will be the first person honored with a star on the new Riverwalk of Fame along the Tennessee River.

The Riverwalk of Fame, which will stretch along the river at Volunteer Landing, will honor people from Knoxville and the surrounding counties who have achieved national or international fame and brought honor to East Tennessee.

They can range from writers, poets, musicians and actors to athletes, coaches, scientists and astronauts and statesmen, among others.

Mayor Bill Haslam made the announcement that Summitt would be the first honoree after she won her 1,000th game as the Lady Volunteers coach when UT defeated Georgia Thursday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Mayor Haslam congratulates Pat Summitt on winning her 1000th game and announces that she will be the first person honored with a star on the River Walk of FameEach person on the Riverwalk will be honored with a large star. In addition to their names each star will contain a small, but significant, symbol of what that person did that made a difference in people's lives.

In Summit's case it will be a basketball. 
 
"I can't think of a better person than Pat Summitt to be first person honored in this way," Haslam said. "She's made a difference in the lives of hundreds of players and brought joy to the hearts of thousands of fans not only here in Knoxville but across Tennessee, the nation and throughout the world." 
 
"We're all very proud of Pat Summitt and we're always happy to honor her because we want her to know how much she means to all of us," he added.

The city will create a committee that will determine the criteria for selecting future honorees for the Riverwalk of Fame including the nomination process, how many people can be selected each year and other details.

One thing it would like to do is determine some type of mechanism where the public would have substantial input in the selection process. It is anticipated that the first ceremony, honoring Pat Summitt and others, on the Riverwalk of Fame will take place sometime in spring or early summer.

Summitt was a 21-year-old senior at the University of Tennessee-Martin when she was offered the UT job in the spring of 1974.

Less than a year later, on January 10, 1975, she coached her team to a 69-32 win over Middle Tennessee State before roughly 50 fans at UT's Alumni Gym on a court that doesn't exist anymore.

At the time Summitt was Tennessee's head basketball coach, attending graduate school, teaching a full load of classes and preparing to play for the United States team in the 1976 Summer Olympics.

Since then her teams have won eight NCAA Women's Basketball Championships, Summitt has coached the U.S. Women's Basketball team to an Olympic Gold Medal and all of her players who have completed their eligibility at UT have earned their degrees. 
 
"Pat Summitt is not only a champion on the court but in our community," Haslam said. "It doesn't matter who ends up being on the Riverwalk in the future - and who knows we may have a future president or a Pulitzer Prize winner in the audience Thursday night - that person won't ever take her place in our hearts."