A PAIR OF UT MARTIN WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PIONEERS SET TO SQUARE OFF THIS WEEKEND
July 2, 2014
MARTIN, Tenn. – Two of the biggest contributors to the success of the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball program will be on opposing benches for the first time this weekend in Indianapolis, Ind.
Lin Dunn, a 1969 UT Martin graduate and head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, will look to draw up a game plan to defeat the San Antonio Stars, who boast UT Martin’s and the Ohio Valley Conference’s all-time leading scorer in Heather Butler. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, July 5.
A large contingency of UT Martin fans are expected to make the approximate six-hour drive to Indianapolis, including Skyhawk athletics director Julio Freire and head women’s basketball coach Kevin McMillan.
Dunn, who announced her intent to retire after the 2014 WNBA season, never officially played collegiate basketball at UT Martin but is largely regarded as one of the biggest contributors to the Skyhawks’ recent success. A Dresden native, Dunn attended UT Martin from 1965-69 while women’s basketball was not offered as an official varsity sport. Dunn was at the forefront of the movement to add the sport to UT Martin’s repertoire and she got her wish in the fall of 1969, three years before Title IX and before most other schools in the country offered women’s athletics in general.
However, by the time women’s basketball was an officially recognized sport at UT Martin, Dunn had already graduated with a bachelor of sciences degree in health, physical education and English.
Dunn parlayed her passion and knowledge for the game into a 38-year coaching career in both the collegiate and professional ranks. She racked up a 447-257 record in head coaching stints at four Division-I institutions (Austin Peay, Ole Miss, Miami and Purdue) and entered this season with a 197-178 professional record, including 152 WNBA victories (seventh-most in league history).
Dunn is no stranger to the big stage, as she guided the Fever to their first-ever WNBA championship in 2012. She also led Purdue to the 1994 Final Four and was an assistant coach on the 1992 USA Olympic Team that earned a bronze medal in Barcelona, Spain.
Donning the familiar No. 11 jersey, Butler is currently in her rookie season with the Stars. While minutes have been hard to come by, the Medina native has made the most of her opportunities while receiving praise from the San Antonio veterans for her work ethic and positive attitude.
Butler helped UT Martin reach unprecedented heights during her playing career from 2010-14. She poured in 2,865 career points – 339 more than the previous OVC record holder – to rank 16th on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list. She signed a free agent contract with San Antonio on May 15, becoming the first-ever OVC player to earn a spot on a WNBA roster.
A four-time All-OVC first team selection, Butler helped the Skyhawks to 87 victories and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. She scored in double-figures in all 129 games of her career, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history. She tied an NCAA record with 392 three-pointers during her illustrious career.
Butler was named OVC Player of the Year and OVC Female Athlete of the Year in 2014, while also earning Senior CLASS Award first team All-American accolades. She was also one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, a co-recipient of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Female Amateur Athlete of the Year award, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, an OVC Scholar-Athlete and a nominee for the AllState WBCA Good Works team.
Photos courtesy of WNBA