Tennessee, which became a storied women’s basketball program under legendary coach Pat Summitt, has fired her replacement, the school announced Wednesday.
Holly Warlick was promoted from associate head coach in April 2012 when Summitt stepped down amid health concerns. In all, she spent 38 years with the Volunteers as a player and a coach.
“Holly and I met this afternoon, and I informed her of the decision to change leadership within the program,” athletic director Phillip Fulmer said in a prepared statement. “Holly has dedicated most of her adult life to the University of Tennessee and the Lady Vols program. She loves Tennessee, and Tennessee needs to always love her back. She was front and center as this program developed into the model for women’s intercollegiate excellence.
“While it certainly stings to make this decision, I am charged with doing what I believe is best for this storied program. It’s important to all of us that Lady Vols basketball maintains its status among the elite.”
Assistant coach Dean Lockwood will oversee the program until a head coach is hired.
Warlick posted a 172-67 record in seven seasons, went to the NCAA Tournament every year and led the Vols to regular-season SEC championships in 2013 and 2015. But the team’s success slipped in the past few years, with Tennessee finishing 19-13 this season after eking into the NCAA Tournament as an 11th seed — its lowest in school history.
While the Vols maintained their streak of making every NCAA Tournament since the event began in 1982, they lost in the first round to UCLA.
Tennessee has failed to finish better than tied for fourth in the SEC in the past four seasons.
Warlick, a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, was an All-America player under Summitt, competing for the Vols from 1976-1980. She was an assistant coach to Summit from 1985 to 2012.
She was on the bench for all eight of the program’s national championships (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007 and 2008).
—Field Level Media