Lady Vols to hire Harper as coach

Former Vols player Kellie Harper will be named the next women’s basketball coach at Tennessee, replacing Holly Warlick, sources confirmed to ESPN’s Chris Low on Monday.

The news was first reported by Fox News Knoxville.

Harper, currently the head coach at Missouri State, led the Lady Bears to the NCAA Sweet 16 this season. Warlick was fired last month by Tennessee after seven seasons.

Harper, a native of Sparta, Tennessee, was Kelly Jolly when she helped lead the Lady Vols to NCAA titles in 1996, ’97 and ’98 as a point guard. She finished her Tennessee playing career in 1999, and she began her coaching career in 2000 as an assistant at Auburn and then Chattanooga. She became head coach at Western Carolina in 2004, and then moved to NC State in 2009 to replace the late Kay Yow.

  • Yes, it was time for Tennessee to part ways with her. But Holly Warlick took on the burden of following a legend and carried it as best she could.

Harper was let go by NC State in 2013, and then went to Missouri State. She has taken the Lady Bears to the NCAA tournament twice, including this year’s run to the regional semifinals as a No. 11 seed. Missouri State beat No. 6 DePaul and No. 3 Iowa State, the latter on the Cyclones’ home floor.

Harper’s career record as a head coach is 285-208; she is 118-79 in six seasons at Missouri State.

Harper was on the Lady Vols’ roster as a player when Warlick was an assistant to Pat Summitt. Warlick took over as head coach for the 2012-13 season after Summitt stepped down in the spring of 2012 because of the effects of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Summitt died in 2016.

Warlick was 172-67 in seven seasons as head coach at Tennessee. This season, the Lady Vols were 19-13 and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to UCLA.

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