KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Lady Vols head basketball coach Pat Summitt was named Sports Illustrated sportswoman of the year for 2011, the publication announced Monday.
When Summitt revealed in August that she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, SI.com's Alexander Wolff says she embraced the disease.
"If she takes up this cause with even half the energy and commitment with which she has championed Lady Vols basketball and women's sports at large, she'll be a worthy companion to other sports figures who have personified high-profile crusades against disease, from Lance Armstrong to Magic Johnson," Wolff wrote.
Summitt launched the Pat Summitt Foundation in November to raise funds and awareness about Alzheimer's.
The coach has led the Lady Vols for 38 seasons, notched 1,075 victories, won eight national championships and continues at the helm of the Lady Vols.
Every athlete who has played four years for Summitt has graduated.
"It's amazing," Summitt said. "I never thought about anything like this. I've been in their company, and I can tell you I am always learning from everyone else. Its not all about me. It's about the other people that have influenced my life."
Gov. Bill Haslam congratulated Summitt in a video posted on YouTube.
Sen. Bob Corker said, "As the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, Pat Summitt's name is synonymous with women's basketball, yet her impact off the court might be even more impressive. We are all tremendously proud of the contributions she has made to the University of Tennessee, to the game of basketball, and, most importantly, to the young women she has coached over the years, preparing them for success both on the court and in life."
Coach Summitt and SI Sportsman of the Year Duke men's head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski will be honored in Manhattan Tuesday night at a red-carpet gala that features previous winners such as Chris Evert, Sugar Ray Leonard and Wayne Gretzky.
Coach K won his fourth national title in 2010 and led teams to gold medals at the 2008 Olympics and 2010 World Championships.