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    We Back Pat: What They’re Saying

    By: Sean Cartell
    SEC Digital Network

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Sunday marks the conclusion of “We Back Pat” Week, a week-long initiative focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and its fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

    Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt and each of the league’s other 11 head coaches spoke about what the week and Summitt’s battle mean to them personally. Here’s a look at what each of the Southeastern Conference coaches are saying:

    Tennessee Head Coach Pat Summitt …
    “It has been amazing. It has really touched me in a very positive way. It speaks volumes to what everyone is telling me all the time -- that we are going to back you. I think it is something that has really gone throughout this league. I can tell you again that it touches my heart and means a lot to me and to my son, Tyler, and our staff.”

    Alabama Head Coach Wendell Hudson …
    “We’ve got a couple of initiatives in place just to make sure everyone is aware of ‘We Back Pat’ with what Pat means to women’s basketball and, basketball in general. At Alabama it is a little different with [athletics director] Mal Moore having gone through it with his wife. That has been on the radar here in Alabama and the situation with Pat has brought it even more to looking at the big picture. It has really been eye-opening for a lot of people and it has been received really well in Tuscaloosa.”

    Arkansas Head Coach Tom Collen …
    “Certainly we all are familiar with some of the effects of a diagnosis of dementia, but it is shocking when it directly impacts a legend in the game of basketball and a close personal friend like Pat Summitt. But as her friends, family and fans would expect, Pat is turning these events into a positive by raising awareness and funds to fight a one of the most debilitating diseases an individual and their family could ever face. It is a constant battle to figure out what we can do to slow the progression of the disease and comfort those who are suffering the effects.”

    Auburn Head Coach Nell Fortner …
    “Pat has been a mentor and a good friend of mine for over 20 years. Whatever we can do or I can do personally to support and bring attention to this cause is very special. She is women's college basketball. I would credit her for putting women's college basketball on the map and continuing to move it forward. She is the matriarch, and there just aren't enough good words to say about her.”

    Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler …
    “We have the best conference in the country and anything we do in a unified way makes a strong statement. Raising awareness about Alzheimer’s is an important cause and it has become real personal to all of us in the SEC with the fight that Pat has. Although we’re all competitors, we’re a unique group of people who support each other and we’re all behind Pat in this battle she has ahead of her.”

    Georgia Head Coach Andy Landers …
    “Alzheimer's is a disease that touches countless families, and unfortunately now it is touching our coaching family and my good friend, Pat Summitt. I'm pleased that the Southeastern Conference is playing such a proactive role in awareness, support and research for this important cause.”

    Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell …
    “Pat Summitt has been a huge influence on my life. I wouldn’t be the coach at Kentucky without the incredible opportunities Pat so graciously provided. Jenna and I, along with the entire UK Hoops family, will join the fight with the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund in order to find a cure to this devastating disease. We urge Kentucky fans and all women’s basketball fans to join us in this fight.”

    LSU Head Coach Nikki Caldwell …
    “It says a lot about the SEC, the administrators and the coaching staffs from every school to come together for this initiative for Coach Summitt. It took a lot of courage for Coach Summitt, but she's always been one of our most courageous leaders. She never backs down from opponents nor will she back down from this challenge.”

    Ole Miss Head Coach Renee Ladner …
    “We Back Pat in every facet, whether it’s personally or professionally. She means so much to me as an individual and just to see her go through this with so much courage and determination is in itself something that we can all be proud of. I’m extremely proud of our conference and the stand that we have taken.”

    Mississippi State Head Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis …
    “I think that it’s great what the SEC has done and what Pat has done to step up with the Foundation Fund because so many of us have either friends or family members have been affected by Alzheimer’s. I think “We Back Pat” Week is a great opportunity to educate all of us on what we can do to help the cause. Pat has set a standard in life for all of us to embrace; she has always trained and competed to win. I have expected to approach this situation with the same grace and confidence that she has with every situation in her life, so I know that however she approaches it, it will be good. This is very meaningful to me that we can be a part of this.”

    South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley …
    “What an incredible opportunity for our program to support such an important initiative as `We Back Pat' Week. Summitt has done so much for the women's basketball community, and it is only right for us to help in the fight to find a cure.”

    Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb …
    “We are honored to join Pat and the Pat Summitt Foundation in the effort to educate and raise awareness about Alzheimer's and to ultimately help find a cure. It is impossible to put into words what Pat has meant to all of us in the women's basketball community, but especially to her counterparts in the Southeastern Conference. Just as she has throughout her career, Pat continues to teach us life lessons about courage, grace and perseverance. We look forward to being part of such a worthy cause and extending our support to someone who continues to do so much for others.”