SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The late Pat (Head) Summitt, Patricia “Trish” Roberts and Cindy Brogdon will be inducted with their 1976 United States Women’s Olympic teammates this weekend with the Class of 2023 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Summitt, who was already enshrined individually in 2000 as head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, will be inducted on Saturday as a player along with two women who competed beside her at the Montreal Games and later played for her at Tennessee. They join LVFL Tamika Catchings (2020) to make it four with Lady Vol ties in the club and along with VFL Bernard King (2013) give the University of Tennessee a total of five welcomed into the Naismith Hall.
The ’76 U.S. squad, comprised of 12 players who made the cut from a tryout group reportedly numbering at least 1,000, won the silver medal in the first-ever Summer Games that featured women’s basketball. The inaugural U.S. Women’s Olympic Team set the standard for future generations of American women’s basketball players and inspired countless young girls to pursue their dreams on the court.
Led by Hall of Famer Billie Moore (Class of 1999), assisted by Sue Gunter (2005) and headlined by Hall of Famers Lusia Harris-Stewart (1992), Ann Meyers Drysdale (1993), Nancy Lieberman (1996) and Pat (Head) Summitt (2000), the team helped change the trajectory of women’s basketball, as increased opportunities to play collegiately, professionally and abroad became the norm.
Summitt, who played collegiately at UT Martin, completed her second season as head coach at Tennessee while preparing to compete in the Olympics. Still known then by her maiden name of Pat Head, she wore her nation’s colors alongside Roberts and Brogdon, who still had collegiate eligibility remaining and transferred to Tennessee in 1976 and 1977, respectively, after beginning their careers at Emporia State and Mercer. The trio would help build the Lady Vols into the winningest program in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history and launch a run of 22 combined appearances in Final Fours, including AIAW and NCAA competition.
Their 1976 Olympic achievement helped launch the Americans on a run toward dominance in the sport. After boycotting the 1980 Moscow Games due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. returned to claim gold in Los Angeles in 1984 (with Summitt as head coach) and at Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. After settling for a bronze medal in Barcelona in 1992, the Americans bounced back and have won the last seven golds, giving them top honors in nine of 11 playing opportunities.