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Apr 1, 2024 1:37 pm

Tennessee fires Kellie Harper after 5 seasons

Kellie Harper

Tennessee fired head coach Kellie Harper on Monday after five seasons, 108 wins and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

The move comes one week after the Lady Vols were eliminated from the second round of the tournament. It also comes the same day that Harper’s buyout dropped by 50 percent. She is owed $2.22 million.

“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,” athletic director Danny White said in a school release. “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.”

White added the school will begin an “aggressive search” for a new head coach.

Harper, 46, went 108-52 in five seasons in Knoxville, including 20-13 in 2023-24. She is 393-259 overall at stops that also include Western Carolina, NC State and Missouri State, for a .603 winning percentage.

“It has been an honor to serve at my alma mater and to coach a Lady Vol program I love so dearly,” Harper said in the release. “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.”

Harper’s most recent contract extension came in June, adding an additional season that committed her to the program through 2027-28. It also raised her pay to $1.1 million annually.

She replaced Holly Warlick, who had a .720 winning percentage (172-67) in seven seasons (2012-19). Warlick guided the Lady Vols to the tournament all seven seasons.

Harper began her coaching career at Western Carolina in 2004-05.

–Field Level Media

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