RUSTON, La. (AP) -- When Tyler Summitt was introduced Wednesday as the sixth head coach in Louisiana Tech women’s basketball history, it wasn’t the first time that the 23-year-old had been to Ruston.
Tyler, the son of legendary Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt, followed the Tennessee Lady Vols and his mother to the Thomas Assembly Center numerous times during the course of one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the women’s game.
“As I grew up as a part of the Tennessee Lady Vols program, everything on and off the floor was geared towards competing against Louisiana Tech,” Tyler said. “The Lady Techsters were the standard in which excellence in women’s basketball was measured for so long. I am proud to be a part of this storied program.”
Louisiana Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland made a bold hire that could pay huge dividends for a Lady Techster program that ranks second all-time in wins (1,043), trailing only Tennessee.
Tyler’s challenge is to rebuild the storied program back into a conference contender and annual NCAA Tournament participant. Tech’s 27 NCAA Tournament appearances ranks fourth all-time although the Lady Techsters have not made an appearance since 2011.
“Tyler represents our philosophy of developing champions in the classroom, on the court and in life,” McClelland said. “He grew up in that championship culture, and it is all he knows. His reputation as a great recruiter, a rising young star in the coaching business and a passionate leader is known throughout the nation. We are fortunate to have him lead our women’s basketball program into the future.”
He replaces Teresa Weatherspoon, who recorded a 99-71 record over the past five-plus seasons. Weatherspoon guided Tech to postseason appearances during her first three seasons, including a pair of NCAA Tournaments, before failing to qualify for the postseason over the past three years.
“(My wife) AnDe and I are grateful and humbled for the opportunity to become a part of the Louisiana Tech Family,” Tyler said. “I am honored to lead our women’s basketball team, which is an absolute gem in the women’s game with an incredible tradition. To our Lady Techster fans, AnDe and I look forward to getting to know you all very soon. I am excited to help every member of our program be the best that they can be through our five standards: belief, family, character, competition, toughness.”
Tyler spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Marquette University under head coach Terri Mitchell where he oversaw the team’s offense while overseeing skill development for every position. He also served as the scouting coordinator.
“Tyler Summitt is an amazingly talented individual with tremendous character and leadership skills that will unquestionably propel him to success in life,” said Louisiana Tech President Les Guice. “I am absolutely thrilled to have him leading our Lady Techsters basketball program and am confident that he can return our program to national prominence.”
His hiring has already brought positive reaction from some of those closest to the Lady Techster program.
“I really respect and appreciate the commitment that President (Les) Guice and Tommy McClelland have shown to this program with this hire,” said Louisiana Tech head coach emeritus Leon Barmore. “They have put the Lady Techster program in the forefront. I met with Tyler. What I found out in the 45 minutes we spent together was that he truly respects this program. We certainly respect him and his family. In time he will prove to be an outstanding head coach. I know he is 23 years old, but he has been coaching since he was one. I really like the direction we have gone. I think this is a really good hire. I am fired up about it.”
In addition to his coaching duties in the collegiate ranks, Tyler is also a co-founder and board member of The Pat Summitt Foundation, participates in public speaking engagements and is active in church with his wife.
“It is a special day for our family, and especially for Tyler, as he is given the reins to one of the most storied programs in women’s basketball,” said Pat Summitt. “We are excited about the opportunity he has been given and are grateful to Tommy McClelland and Dr. Leslie Guice for having faith in Tyler. He has been preparing for this day since he was a little boy, and I can assure you he will work very hard and will represent Louisiana Tech University with class. I’m sure Tyler is ready to get busy, and I know he and AnDe look forward to becoming part of the Louisiana Tech family and the Ruston community.”
He graduated from the University of Tennessee Chancellor's Honors Program where he was a member of the Tennessee men's basketball team for two seasons.
Tyler also served as a student assistant coach for his mother and the Tennessee women's basketball program. He was actively involved in the 2007 through 2009 seasons for the Tennessee women, two of which resulted in national championships.
He was the head coach of numerous AAU teams in Tennessee, including the Tennessee Fury 17U who went on to win the State Championship. He has also been a head coach at Tennessee’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball Summer Camps from 2005-2011.
“Tyler told me, ‘There’s only one environment I know. That is a championship environment, and I will bring that to practice, to work and to games every single day,’” said Mitchell, his former head coach at Marquette. “He absolutely delivered on that promise. He’s going to be a star in our profession.”
Tyler married his high school sweetheart, Anne Dennis ("AnDe") Ragsdale Summitt, on June 1, 2013.
His hiring is pending the approval of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT TYLER SUMMITT
R.B. Summitt II, Tyler’s Dad
“It is such a humbling but exciting moment. We are proud for Tyler and for Louisiana Tech. I think we can mark down this day as exceptional, a date to be remembered, sort of like your child's birthday: the emotions, the expectations, the hopes of a new beginning. Tyler has been praying, planning and building for just such a wonderful opportunity. There aren't enough words to thank Louisiana Tech University and all the loyal fans. I know you have hired a winner and great days are ahead.
Cuonzo Martin (Head Coach for Tennessee Men’s Basketball)
“Tyler has a tremendous work ethic and has the basketball knowledge. All his life he’s been around the best that ever coached the game so he understands what it takes.”
Dave Hart (Athletic Director for University of Tennessee)
“Tyler Summitt is a rising star in the coaching profession. He is mature well beyond his years as a young professional. He has superb knowledge of the game of basketball, is a tireless recruiter who connects with prospects and players alike and his passion will galvanize every key University constituent.”
Joan Cronan (Women’s Athletic Director Emeritus for the University of Tennessee)
“When combining the tradition of LA Tech with the potential of Tyler Summitt, I think you have a winning combination. I have literally known Tyler since birth, and I have been impressed with his maturity and work ethic from an early age. Tyler possesses many wonderful qualities, but the three I most admire are his character, communication skills and Christian values. This hire reflects the tradition of excellence of women’s basketball at LA Tech.”
Billie Moore (Former Head Coach for U.S. Olympic Team, UCLA, Cal. State-Fullerton)
“Tyler has a special gift. He has a talent for teaching, a unique perspective of seeing and understanding the concepts and strategies of the game. Tyler is great with people; he is a tremendous communicator and a natural leader – things that have nothing to do with age. Quite simply, he has ‘it’ and there is absolutely no question in my mind that he will be a successful head coach.”