Tennessee’s search for a new head coach of the Lady Vols basketball program could be winding down, and it looks like a lead candidate has emerged.
According to John Brice of Lettermen Row, former Lady Vol point guard Kara Lawson has a strong desire to restore her alma mater back to national prominence.
The interest is mutual according to Brice. Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer is currently in Tampa, Florida — the location of the Women’s Final Four — with his inner circle to interview candidates. Fulmer’s list of candidates is 6-8 names long and includes Lawson, Nikki Fargas, Kellie Harper, and Amanda Butler.
Am told @phillipfulmer in Tampa for addtl intrvus 4 Lady Vols job w/ his inner circle including agent. List has 6-8 names & Kara Lawson interest IS Mutual. She’s spoken to Fulmer re: job & has strong desire to restore alma mater to prominence. Butler, Fargas, Harper among others
— John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) April 6, 2019
Lawson starred as the Lady Vols’ point guard under Pat Summitt from 1999-2003. During the course of her four-year career, the Virginia native averaged 13.6 points per game, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals in 143 career games. Lawson shot 45.8 percent from the field, 41.5 percent from three, and 84.7 percent from the free throw line.
Upon graduating, Lawson was drafted fifth overall in the first round of the 2003 WNBA Draft by the Detroit Shock. Five days following the draft, Lawson was traded to the Sacramento Monarchs. She would win a title with the Monarchs two years later.
Lawson was also a member of the 2001 and 2008 USA Basketball teams during the the course of his professional career. During both stints, she helped guide the USA to a gold medal.
Following her career on the court, Lawson was named to the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee by Governor Bill Haslam in 2018. She also serves as a television analyst for ESPN and the Washington Wizards. Lawson retired from the WNBA in 2015 to focus on her broadcasting career.
In 2007, she became the first woman to work as an analyst for an NBA game when the New Orleans Hornets and Washington Wizards played. 10 years later, Lawson was named the primary television analyst for the Wizards, becoming one of the first women to be the primary analyst for an NBA team.
Lawson’s name has been floated around for the Lady Vols job since Holly Warlick was fired on March 27th. Tennessee went 19-13 this season and suffered a loss to UCLA in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It marked just the second time the Lady Vols had lost in the first round of the tournament, and this year was the first time in over 40 years the Lady Vols failed to win 20 games. Their 7-9 SEC record was also the first time Tennessee finished under .500 in conference play.
As for the other candidates mentioned by Brice, two of the names he mentioned are also former Lady Vol players.
Nikki Fargas — then Nikki Caldwell — played guard for the Lady Vols from 1990-94 and served as an assistant under Pat Summitt in the 1998-99 season and came back as an assistant at Tennessee from 2002-08. She was the head coach at UCLA from 2008-11 and is currently the head coach at LSU.
Kellie Harper also played guard for the Lady Vols in the 90s. She helped Tennessee win three-straight national titles from 1996-98 as a point guard, and she was a head coach at Western Carolina and NC State before taking over at Missouri State. She took the Lady Bears to the Sweet Sixteen this season.
Amanda Butler is from Tennessee like both Fargas and Harper, but she didn’t play or coach for the Lady Vols. Butler played guard for Florida from 1990-94, and she was the head coach at Charlotte and Florida before taking over as Clemson’s head coach before last the start of last season.