We don’t often wander into the territory of women’s college basketball. In the past, it’s taken some landmark occurrence — say, a coach reaching one of those round-number milestone games, or some ridiculous play, or an awesome fight may have gotten a mention in the Morning 5. This isn’t really because of any animosity or lack of respect toward the women’s game. It’s simply not what we cover. You could say the same thing for the men’s game in Division II or III. It’s not what our editors and correspondents all have in common. Only the most extremely newsworthy circumstances would result in a mention around here.
Unfortunately, something extremely newsworthy happened yesterday.
By now, you’ve heard the news that Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with a disease called early-onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. There’s a good chance you’ve read at least one or two of the glowing articles about Summitt, all unquestionably well-founded in their praise and their rememberances of her career. Other than to mention that surreal number of career wins and preposterous-looking record — that’d be 1,071-199 and counting (on which more in a moment), an 84.3% win rate — we will not cover that well-documented ground here. We’re not going to use this woman being diagnosed with a cruel disease as a reason to start talking about women’s college basketball or what she’s meant to that game like we’ve been secretly following it all along as some sort of afterthought. We all know she’s a legend, a title she’s earned regardless of her gender or that of the athletes she coaches. Everyone’s aware of how she belongs in the discussion, if not carved into the theoretical rock, of possible candidates for a basketball coaches’ Mount Rushmore, if one were ever to be constructed. She needs our approval about as much as she needs a flat tire or an IRS audit.