KNOXVILLE - According to a source close to the process, former Tennessee Lady Volunteer and current Missouri State head coach Kellie Harper has been hired as the women's basketball coach at her alma mater.
Kellie Harper's return is Tennessee official.— Gene Henley (@genehenley3) April 9, 2019
She receives a 5-year deal worth $750,000 annually. Pay raise of $500K from Missouri State.
The source said the two sides are working toward an official announcement as well as the introductory news conference.
I think it’s being reported by others, but multiple sources have told me that Kellie Jolly Harper will be named the new Tennessee women’s coach.— Gene Henley (@genehenley3) April 8, 2019
Harper (formerly Jolly) played for Tennessee from 1995 to '99, helping win three consecutive national championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998. She was selected to the 1997 NCAA Final Four all-tournament team.
Her coaching career started with one season as an assistant at Auburn, followed by three at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Mocs advanced to the NCAA tournament all three years, including 2004 when they defeated Rutgers 74-69 for the only NCAA tournament win in program history.
Harper received her first head coaching job in 2004 at Western Carolina, where she spent five seasons and went to two NCAA tournaments and made two Women's National Invitation Tournament appearances. She was voted the 2007 Southern Conference coach of the year.
That led in 2009 to North Carolina State, which went to the NCAA tournament in her first season and made the WNIT her final two seasons before she was relieved of her duties in 2013.
Harper then went to Missouri State, compiling a 118-79 record in six seasons. Her Bears advanced to the NCAA tournament twice and the WNIT three times, and she guided them to a 25-10 record and the Sweet 16 this past season.
She has a career record of 285-208, with five NCAA tournament appearances and seven WNIT berths.
She was under contract through the 2021-22 season with an annual salary of $246,640. Her husband, Jon, who has been on her staff at all three of her head-coaching stops, has a salary of $85,829.
Harper replaces Holly Warlick, who was 172-67 in seven seasons and advanced to the NCAA tournament each season after succeeding the legendary Pat Summitt in 2012. Warlick's Lady Volunteers won Southeastern Conference regular-season titles in 2013 and 2015 and the SEC tournament in 2014.
Warlick is owed $705,000 by the university, which is one-third the salary remaining on her contract that was set to expire in three more years.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3 or at Facebook.com/VolsUpdate.