The White House announced Thursday that President Barack Obama will award Patricia Pat Summitt the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Summitt is a former head coach of the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team. The Medal of Freedom is presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors, the White House stated.

Summitt, 59, announced her resignation as the university's women's basketball coach Wednesday. Her resignation came less than a year after she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

CBS Sports reported that Summitt's longtime assistant Holly Warlick will replace her.

Coach Summitt is an inspiration - both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's, Obama said.

Obama said that Summitt's gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights.

Over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched he said. Pat's coaching career may be over, but I'm confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.

Summitt remains coach emeritus of the Tennessee University. She took the women's team to more Final Four playoffs than any other college coach. She has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball.