April 9, 2019 / 6:43 AM / 2 months ago

Lady Vols to hire Harper from Missouri State: reports

Former Tennessee women’s basketball player Kellie Harper will be the next coach at Tennessee, multiple outlets reported Monday.

Harper is 118-79 in six seasons as the head coach at Missouri State, leading the Lady Bears to a 25-10 record this season that included a run to the Sweet 16 as an 11th seed. Missouri State lost to Stanford in a regional semifinal.

Harper would be the replacement for Holly Warlick, who was fired March 27 after posting a 172-67 record in seven seasons.

Harper, known as Kelly Jolly during her playing days, helped the Lady Vols win NCAA titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998 as a point guard under legendary coach Pat Summitt.

She also has been the head coach at Western Carolina (2004-09) and North Carolina State (2009-2013), with a career record of 285-208. She has led all three of her programs to the NCAA Tournament but was let go by North Carolina State after three consecutive seasons without an NCAA appearance.

Warlick was promoted from associate head coach in April 2012 when Summitt stepped down amid health concerns. In all, Warlick spent 38 years with the Volunteers as a player and a coach.

Warlick went to the NCAA Tournament every year as the Tennessee head coach 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.

—Field Level Media

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