Two coaches who had a profound impact on their respective sports died within hours of each other, with the death of longtime University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt followed by news of the death of longtime NFL coach Buddy Ryan.
Summitt, who was head coach of the Lady Vols for almost 40 years, died today at 64 at a senior living facility in Knoxville, Tenn., after a battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Summitt played a key role in building the profile of women’s basketball before she stepped down from her job at the end of the 2012 season.
Summitt’s Lady Vols won eight national championships and chalked up 1,098 game victories, the most ever for any Division I coach in men’s or women’s sports. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 and was named the Naismith Coach of the 20th Century.
Ryan died today in Kentucky at 82 after a 35-season NFL coaching career. His cause of death was not announced.
Ryan had a number of head coaching jobs in the NFL, where he was known as a defensive specialist. His crowning achievement may have come as a defensive coordinator, when he won the 1985 Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears, who boasted a defense that many observers consider the best of all time.
He later served as head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals before retiring in 1995. His twin sons Rex and Rob are both NFL coaches.