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Tennessee fires women's basketball coach Kellie Harper

University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Kellie Harper was fired Monday after five seasons behind the Lady Volunteers' bench. Photo by Jordan7410/Wikimedia Commons
University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Kellie Harper was fired Monday after five seasons behind the Lady Volunteers' bench. Photo by Jordan7410/Wikimedia Commons

April 1 (UPI) -- The University of Tennessee on Monday fired women's basketball coach Kellie Harper after five seasons of guiding the Lady Volunteers program.

The move came a week after sixth-seeded Tennessee lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to North Carolina State, finishing the 2023-24 season with a 20-13 record.

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"After a thorough review of our women's basketball program, I have informed Kellie we are making a change in leadership," Tennessee athletics director Danny White said in a statement. "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."

A nationwide search to replace Harper will "begin immediately," he said.

Harper led the Lady Vols to a 108-52 record (53-24 in conference play) in her five seasons as head coach after replacing Holly Warlick in 2019, but was unable to get the once high-flying program past the Sweet 16 round in the NCAA tourney or to win a Southeastern Conference title.

She has strong connections to Tennessee's era of dominance in the women's sport during the 1990s as the starting point guard under legendary coach Pat Summitt when the squad won three consecutive national championships and went 39-0 in 1998.

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"It has been an honor to serve at my alma mater and to coach a Lady Vol program I love so dearly," she said in a statement. "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."

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