Thursday, February 01, 2007

Summitt to appear on box of Wheaties

Pat Summitt is breaking new ground in, of all places, your local grocery store — on the cereal aisle.

The Tennessee Lady Vols coach is being featured on the cover of a special-edition box of Wheaties, becoming the first collegiate women’s basketball coach to be so honored, said Wheaties spokesperson Tara Johnson.

The image, which also includes UT’s home court and a Lady Vols’ logo on the front, was unveiled at halftime of Thursday night’s game against South Carolina. The back of the box shows Summitt and Smokey, the school mascot.

Johnson said the boxes have been shipped and will be available regionally.

"This makes a tremendous statement, not only for me, the Lady Vols and the University of Tennessee, but for women’s basketball in general,’’ Summitt said.

Wheaties, which began in 1924, started its association with sports in the mid 1930s with a sign on the left field wall at Nicollet Park in downtown Minneapolis.

The Summitt special edition is part of a Wheaties college series that has included such schools as Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Notre Dame and North Carolina.

"When we found out they were doing a series of college boxes, that’s when we started lobbying them to do a box about the University of Tennessee and a box about Lady Vols basketball,’’ said Jimmy Delaney, the Lady Vols’ marketing and promotions director.

Summitt was a consensus top candidate. In her 33-year coaching career, she is first among all collegiate coaches at four-year schools with 932 victories. She has led her teams to six national championships.

"There never was a question of who we should be pushing for,’’ Delaney said.

Johnson wouldn’t comment on the financial terms, but Wheaties at least had to pay a licensing fee for the use of Summitt’s image as well as the university logo.

"It’s huge, not only for the exposure; you can look at everything,’’ Delaney said. "It’s a grand slam actually."

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