UT Martin, ’69
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus‘ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
Athletes like Pat Head Summitt may not have reached their full potential without trailblazers like Lin Dunn.
Dunn began her career as a women’s basketball coach before there were official women’s basketball teams. When she took her first teaching position at Austin Peay State University—before Title IX requirements—she served as volunteer coach of the unofficial, unfunded women’s basketball, volleyball and tennis teams (in addition to her teaching duties), thus paving the way for official programs to follow.
Since those days, Dunn went on to a 40- year coaching career, spanning four college programs and three professional teams across the country. She was named a coach of the year by the American Basketball League, the state of Florida and the Big Ten Conference (twice), and she is a member of seven different athletic halls of fame.
She was assistant coach of the bronze-winning 1992 USA Olympic women’s basketball team and is known for being the first coach and general manager of the Seattle Storm in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She has a WNBA championship title (Indiana Fever in 2012) and many championship and playoff appearances to her name.
Dunn is widely known as a pioneer in women’s athletics, and without her tireless persistence—and that of others like her—the world of women’s sports would not be what it is today. She is founder of the consulting firm Coaches for Coaches, which helps train head coaches in all aspects of leading successful athletic programs.
Dunn retired in 2014 but was lured back to coaching. She is in her first post-retirement season as assistant coach of the University of Kentucky women’s basketball team.