Tennessee relieves Lady Vol leader Kellie Harper of duties

On3 imageby:Brent Hubbs04/01/24


Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Danny White is making a change in the leadership of the Lady Vols basketball program relieving Kellie Harper of duties as the head coach. 

White informed Harper of the decision on Monday and addressed the team about his vision for the future. 
“After a thorough review of our women’s basketball program, I have informed Kellie we are making a change in leadership,” said White. “Decisions like these are never easy to make, especially with someone who has done so much for the Lady Vols as a three-time national champion student-athlete. Her love and passion for Tennessee and the Lady Vols is second to none. She has invested so much heart and soul into our program and truly has given her all for Tennessee. I thank Kellie for her stewardship of our women’s basketball program and wish her and Jon well in the next chapter of their lives.” 

Harper guided the Lady Vols for five seasons reaching the NCAA Tournament every year and leading the program to the Sweet Sixteen in two of those trips.

This past season, Harper’s team went 20-13 and lost in the second round to NC State. In five seasons, Harper was 108-52 overall and 53-24 in SEC play.

The Sparta, Tennessee native won three national titles at Tennessee playing for Pat Summitt, but she could not restore that magic as the head coach. 

Harper made 1.1 million dollars as the head coach this past year and earned a $40,000 bonus for getting her team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. 

Per Harper’s contract, her buyout dropped from 3.1 million dollars to 2.2 million dollars on April first (today). 

“It has been an honor to serve at my alma mater and to coach a Lady Vol program I love so dearly,” Harper said. “I am grateful for the opportunity my staff and I have had to lead an amazing group of young women and to mentor them on the court as well as provide them with life skills that will benefit them far beyond the game of basketball.”

White will now begin the search for the program’s third head coach since Pat Summitt’s final year in 2012. Summitt led the program from 1974-2012 with a 88% winning percentage going 1098-208 during the span winning 8 national titles. Former player Holly Warlick took over for Summitt in 2013 leading the program for seven seasons reading the Elite Eight three times in her first four seasons.

The program’s last trip to the Final Four was in 2008 when they won their 8 national championship.

With the transfer portal open until May first, White will likely have to move quickly with a hire for not only roster retention but for roster help in bringing in transfers as well. 

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