"Coach Summitt is an inspiration -- both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's," Obama said in a White House release.
"Pat's gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched. Pat's coaching career may be over, but I'm confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor," Obama said.
Summitt took Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach, has the second-best record of NCAA Championships in basketball and was named Naismith Women's Collegiate Coach of the Century.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to those who have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," the release said.