American Culture

Pat Summitt and Dick Clark established unmatchable legacies with their longevity

by Bryan Clark

On Wednesday, two legendary careers ended in different ways. The University of Tennessee announced Pat Summitt would step down as women’s basketball head coach and television personality Dick Clark died following a heart attack.

Summitt began coaching at Tennessee in 1974, the year of the first broadcast of the American Music Awards, produced by Clark’s company, Dick Clark Productions.

For perspective on the longevity of Summitt and Clark’s careers, here’s a comparison between 1974 and to 2012.



Richard Nixon (resigned Aug.9) Gerald Ford

President of the United States

Barack Obama

The Sting

Academy Award for Best Picture winner

The Artist

55 cents

National average price for a gallon of gasoline


Roger Moore

James Bond

Daniel Craig

All in the Family

Highest-rated television series

American Idol

$103,000-Super Bowl XIII

Cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad

$3.5 million-Super Bowl XLVI


Number of NBA Teams


Frank Oz (Bert)

Jim Henson (Ernie)

Bert and Ernie puppeteers on Sesame Street

Eric Jacobson (Bert)

Steve Whitmire (Ernie)

Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma

States with Walmart stores

all 50 states


Average baseball player salary


4.012 billion people

World population

7,008,081,013 people

5.6 percent

United States unemployment rate

8.2 percent

“I Honestly Love You”-Olivia Newton-John; “Kung Fu Fighting”-Carl Douglas; “Seasons in the Sun”-Terry Jacks

Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles

“Sexy and I Know It”-LMFAO; “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”-Kelly Clarkson;

“We Are Young”-Fun. featuring Janelle Monáe

In 38 seasons, Summitt guided Tennessee to eight national championships and 16 Southeastern Conference tournament titles. She won 1,098 games, more than any other men’s or women’s college basketball coach.

Last August, Summitt announced her diagnosis of early-onset dementia. She will now become “head coach emeritus,” serving as a liaison between the team and the athletic department, according to Tennessee’s athletics website.

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University’s men’s head basketball coach, called Summitt a “pioneer of basketball” in a story on this week.

“Very few people leave a lasting legacy in their chosen professions,” Krzyzewski said. “She raised the level of commitment, pride and notoriety of her sport.”

Nicknamed “the world’s oldest teenager,” Clark became a regular fixture on American television, hosting the programs American Bandstand and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. His production company produced the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Golden Globe Awards in addition to the American Music Awards.

In December 2004, Clark, a four-time Emmy Award winner, suffered a stroke and didn’t appear on his New Year’s Eve broadcast. He returned a year later, noticeably weakened. From 2006 to 2011, television and radio host Ryan Seacrest held primary hosting duties as Clark, a 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, took on a reduced role.

Former CNN talk show host Larry King praised Clark’s personality.

“The hardest thing in the business is to be yourself,” King told CNN this week. “No one knew that better than Dick Clark.”

Summitt and Clark’s legacies will unlikely be matched. Despite the sadness of their careers ending, sports and entertainment fans should appreciate their longevity, their places in history in their respective industries and their remarkable career achievements.

Bryan Clark is a junior journalism and mass communication major at St. Bonaventure University.