Courtesy call ends in job for Sum­mitt’s son

Austin American-Statesman - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By nan­cyar­mour ‘Bas­ket­ball is just part of me,’ tyler sum­mitt says. NEXT GAME ten­nessee at texas,

MIL­WAU­KEE — When Mar­quette coach Terri Mitchell picked up the phone to talk with Tyler Sum­mitt about the open­ing on her staff, it fig­ured to be lit­tle more than a courtesy call.

Mitchell knew his pedi­gree — who didn’t? The son of Hall of Fame coach Pat Sum­mitt, who won eight na­tional ti­tles and more games than any­one else in NCAA col­lege bas­ket­ball in 38 years at Ten­nessee, Tyler Sum­mitt has been around the game longer than some veteran coaches. But he was just fin­ish­ing his se­nior year at Ten­nessee and, now 22, was barely older than

p.m., Sun­day, FSSW

1 many of the Mar­quette play­ers.

Forty-five min­utes later, Mitchell had asked Sum­mitt to come to Mar­quette for an in­ter­view. By the end of the in­ter­view, he had the job.

“From the sec­ond I started ask­ing him ques­tions, he was on it. Just his phi­los­o­phy, his pas­sion,” Mitchell said. “Coming from Ten­nessee, watch­ing his mom, all the na­tional cham­pi­onships — he’s em­braced all that knowl­edge and said, ‘How can I trans­late that into Mar­quette be­ing a cham­pi­onship pro­gram? I will bring a cham­pi­onship en­vi­ron­ment ev­ery day be­cause that’s all I know.’

“He’s go­ing to be a star in our pro­fes­sion.”

Tyler Sum­mitt was hired at Mar­quette in April, the very day his mother stepped down at Ten­nessee. She had been di­ag­nosed with early on­set de­men­tia, Alzheimer’s type, in May 2011, a month shy of her 59th birth­day.

Mar­quette is host­ing a “We Back Pat” night to raise Alzheimer’s aware­ness Satur­day, when it hosts Toledo. Pat Sum­mitt plans to be there.

Be­cause Tyler Sum­mitt is so close to his mom, leav­ing Knoxville wasn’t easy. But Pat Sum­mitt re­mains in good health — when­ever Tyler Sum­mitt calls, she’s usu­ally just fin­ish­ing a work­out or do­ing one of the many me­mory quizzes or puzzles she has on her iPad — and she en­cour­aged him to go.

“She’s pre­pared me for this and she knows I’m pre­pared and she be­lieves in me and she’s taught me so much,” Tyler Sum­mitt said. “So it’s fun to go and be do­ing kind of what she’s taught me to do and do­ing things the right way and men­tor­ing young ath­letes while she’s right there watch­ing.

“I think a part of her phi­los­o­phy is liv­ing on in me, so I hope that I can con­tinue to make her proud.”

Bas­ket­ball has been part of Tyler Sum­mitt’s life for, well, for­ever. While other kids were play­ing video games af­ter school, he was hang­ing out at Ten­nessee prac­tices. In­stead of go­ing to sleep­overs or par­ties on week­ends, he was tak­ing road trips with the Lady Vols.

Some kids might rebel, seek­ing as dif­fer­ent a ca­reer path as pos­si­ble. But Sum­mitt was cap­ti­vated, never once con­sid­er­ing do­ing any­thing else with his life.

“Bas­ket­ball,” he said, “is just part of me.”

He was coach­ing bas­ket­ball camps when he was in high school, and served as a stu­dent-as­sis­tant for the Lady Vols as a fresh­man. A walk-on at Ten­nessee his last two years, he coached AAU teams in his free time. When his mom watched game film, he’d pull up a seat and watch with her.

“Even­tu­ally, he saw ev­ery­thing I was see­ing,” Pat Sum­mitt said in an email. “I knew he had a gift to coach.”

Tyler Sum­mitt was like a sponge with any­one he came in con­tact with — his mother; Bil­lie Moore, the Hall of Famer who was Pat Sum­mitt’s Olympic coach; John Wooden; Bruce Pearl and Cuonzo Martin, both of whom Tyler Sum­mitt played for at Ten­nessee. He made notes of ev­ery­thing he learned, and has them stored on his com­puter.

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