This Incredible Letter From 1974 Changed College Basketball Forever

Today is opening day in Major League Baseball but it will take a backseat to women’s college basketball on ESPN and that may have never happened if not for a letter that was sent in 1974 to Pat Head.

In 1974, Head, who would later marry and change her name to Pat Summitt, was 21 years old and had just graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She accepted a position in graduate school at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

At Tennessee she would be a graduate assistant for the women’s basketball team and still considered herself a player as she prepared to play in the 1976 Olympics.

But things changed two weeks later when Tennessee’s coach at the time asked to take a sabbatical. At that point, Helen Watson, the head of the Physical Education department, mailed a letter asking Summitt if she would accept the position as head coach.

Forty years later, Summitt is retired after winning more than 1,000 games and eight national championships, and ESPN is showing women’s basketball while an opening day game in baseball is pushed over to ESPN2.

This was the letter that started it all (via ESPN’s documentary “Pat XO”).

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