Pat Summitt didn’t seem to think her 23-year-old son, Tyler, was too young or inexperienced to take his first head coaching job at Louisiana Tech.
After all, the Hall of Fame coach, who won eight national titles with Tennessee, was only 22 when she coached her first game. Tyler Summitt will turn 24 before next season begins, and also had the advantage of spending much of his youth sharing his mother’s passion.
“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,” Pat Summitt said on Wednesday, when her son was introduced as the sixth head coach in Lady Techsters history. “He has been preparing for this day since he was a little boy.”
The Louisiana Tech coaching staff won’t be devoid of experience in any event. During his introduction in Ruston, Tyler Summitt announced that his top assistant would be Mickie DeMoss, who played at Louisiana Tech and spent two decades as Pat Summitt’s assistant in Knoxville.
“Mickie has always been family to me so it is only fitting that she joins us back here with the Louisiana Tech family,” Tyler Summitt said. “I respect Mickie and see her not only as a friend but a mentor, and I will be relying on her expertise.”
Tyler Summitt arrives in Ruston after spending two seasons as an assistant under Terri Mitchell at Marquette. Before that, he was a student assistant at Tennessee, working alongside his mother.
The expectation of Louisiana Tech athletic director Tommy McClelland is that Tyler Summitt will restore the Lady Techsters to the ranks of annual NCAA Tournament contenders.
Tech’s 27 NCAA Tournament appearances ranks fourth nationally, but Lady Techsters have missed the tournament the past three seasons, which led to the firing of coach Teresa Weatherspoon, who had starred for the Lady Techsters as a player and also coached them to two NCAA appearances.
“As I grew up as a part of the Tennessee Lady Vols program, everything on and off the floor was geared toward competing against Louisiana Tech,” Tyler Summit said. “The Lady Techsters were the standard in which excellence in women’s basketball was measured for so long.”
At the very least, the hiring was a public relations coup for Louisiana Tech.
Across women’s basketball, some of the biggest names in coaching took note, and also sounded curious to see how Tyler Summitt’s youth and inexperience would figure into his ability to handle the myriad responsibilities of a head coach.
During a conference call for the women’s Final Four, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who got his first head coaching job when he was 30, said light-heartedly that he wasn’t sure he could even hold the truck driving job he had at age 23, never mind take on the task before Tyler Summitt.
“I’m sure he’s going to be overwhelmed at times, and I’m sure he’s got a lot of great ideas that he’s going to implement, and I’m sure he’s going to have a great staff that’s going to help him,” Auriemma said. “That’s just a tall task for a 30 year old, much less a 23 year old.”
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said she was coaching in high school when she was 23.
“When you’re in that position as a young coach, there’s so many things that you don’t know in terms of running a program. I mean, the Xs and Os are probably the smallest part of the job sometimes,” McGraw said. “Recruiting is important, the community, the alumni. There’s so many things, handling budgets and just taking care of managing a staff and doing so many things that I don’t know how you do it at that age.
“Most people have been assistant coaches for a long time when they get the head coaching job,” McGraw continued. “It’s a very difficult transition, and I don’t think I would have been prepared for that at 23.”
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