KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Many UT students were upset after “The Rock” on campus had black markings over Coach Pat Summitt’s face.
Sydney Gilliam, a junior at the Knoxville, has since taken several hours to cover the black marks on the Rock.
“I thought it was really disrespectful. How someone could do that to ‘The Rock,’ especially with Pat Summitt on it. Because we all know what she’s been through with Alzheimer’s, I think it takes a bad person to have the audacity to it,” Gilliam said.
For nearly a month, people stopped to look at “The Rock” in awe. The mural was finished just hours before Summitt’s memorial service on campus in July, but it wasn’t the same sight on Wednesday morning.
“I just thought about all the people that came here to remember her and left flowers, and I don’t think this should be what’s left on this Rock,” said Gilliam.
Morgan Simmons, who moved into her dorm on Wednesday, said she was looking forward to seeing the artwork in person.
“I think it not only upsets the athletic department, but all UT Vols that are happy to be here,” she said.
Gilliam said she planned to paint all day to get the mural back to its original look.
“They probably thought it was really funny and didn’t really think about the backlash people would have because this campus really admires Pat Summitt,” said Gilliam.
The original artist of the mural told WATE, “Nothing painted on the Rock is ever intended to be permanent. That’s the nature of the Rock. That Pat’s portrait stayed up so long is a testament to the greatness of her legacy and the respect that this community has for her,” Miller said.
Summitt died in late June after battling Alzheimer’s for several years. Click here to follow News 2’s coverage of Pat Summitt’s life and career.