The son of legendary Tennessee Lady Volunteers coach Pat Summitt has been hired to coach the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters. Tyler, 23, is the sixth head coach in the program’s history, replacing Teresa Weatherspoon, who was fired March 15 after five seasons with La Tech.
This will be Tyler Summitt’s first head coaching stint after spending the past two seasons as an assistant at Marquette under Terri Mitchell and working as a student assistant under his mother Pat at Tennessee. Tyler Summit has the unenviable task of rebuilding a once elite Lady Techsters program that has missed the past three NCAA tournaments and finished 12-20 last season, leading to Weatherspoon’s dismissal. Louisiana Tech’s storied history in women’s college basketball includes three National Championships, 13 Final Fours, 19 Elite Eights, and 23 Sweet Sixteens in 27 NCAA tournament appearances.
A daunting proposition for any rookie head coach, but Tyler Summitt is not your typical 23-year-old. Having grown up around basketball and learned the game from his Hall of Fame coach mother Pat Summit, Tyler believes he has spent the majority of his life preparing for this moment.
“People look at my resume and only see Marquette, but what they need to realize is that I grew up as a student assistant for my mom and I was very heavily involved from 2007 to 2009,” Tyler said in an interview with Fox Sports. “I think this entire time growing up I’ve had a head coach mentality and I’ve been preparing for this moment for a very long time.”
Tyler was also a walk-on at Tennessee where he played for two years under Bruce Pearl and Cuonzo Martin. Learning the game from his mother at an early age, though, is what he credits the most.
“I’ve always felt I had a leg up because I grew up around basketball,” Tyler told Yahoo in a 2012 interview. He credits his coaching prowess to the hours he spent around his mom, both on and off the basketball court. He acknowledges that his leadership style is a direct result of observing his mom’s interaction with her staff and players.
Summitt added that when he assisted his mother at Tennessee, Louisiana Tech was the standard that every other team was chasing, everyone was gearing up to compete with Louisiana Tech.
Tyler’s age has invited a lot of controversy and whether he has experienced enough to be able to tackle the long list of duties that a head coaching job entails is the question on everyone’s mind. Connecticut women’s head coach Geno Auriemma joked that he had a hard enough time keeping his truck driving job at 23, but then said he was sure Summitt would have a lot of great ideas and surround himself with a great staff.
Age may be a huge question mark for Tyler at this stage, but what he learned growing up from his mother Pat cannot be overlooked. Summitt coached for 38 years-all at Tennessee-and never had a losing season. She led the Lady Vols to eight national titles, a mark bested only by coach John Wooden’s ten national titles with the UCLA men’s team. Her first coaching job came at age 22.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat