Summitt: Tyler taught me how to text

Updated: November 14, 2006, 7:53 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers | ESPN The Magazine

Pat Summitt's head says that the balance emerging in women's college basketball helps the sport.

The legendary Tennessee coach's heart says something else.

"I can tell you I know it's good for the game, but I can't tell you I like it," Summitt says of the increasing parity.

She knows it's an outgrowth of a deepening talent pool and more schools putting more resources into the game. But she also thinks it has to do with recruiters cutting corners, sometimes using new communication tools.

"I think the NCAA has to respond to things like instant messaging when it's getting abused," she says. "People are making contacts outside dead periods, doing it in school."

Of course, Summitt's a competitor too, and has been a pretty fair recruiter herself, so she's not giving up on getting back on top. Just before the season last year, in a car ride back home to Knoxville after her father's funeral, she asked her son, Tyler, a question: "Can you show me how to text message?" The 16-year-old high-school point guard obliged, and she sent a message to her staff.

"In minutes, I got a bunch of replies back saying, 'Nice try, Tyler!' And I had to reply back and tell them, 'No, it's really Coach Summitt. I sent that message.' "

In her own way, she's sending another message, to the new generation shaking up the game: There's some fight in the old guard yet.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.