New Lady Vols head coach Kellie Harper has made her first two official hires at Tennessee.
The University of Tennessee announced on Monday that Harper has filled two of the three main positions on her coaching staff at Tennessee. Harper has hired her husband, Jon Harper, and Jennifer Sullivan as two of her assistant coaches. Both coaches were on her staff at Missouri State, and Jon Harper has been on Kellie Harper’s staff for all 15 years of her head coaching career prior to being hired at UT.
“I am really pleased to announce the addition of Jon Harper and Jennifer Sullivan as assistant coaches on the Lady Vol coaching staff,” Harper said in a statement. “In addition to each of them bringing different strengths to the table, there is a proven record of us working well together as a team to build measurable success in a program. Loyalty and trust are key components in how we operate every single day.
“Jennifer possesses great character, has a tremendous way with people, and is very intelligent and efficient in how she goes about her work. Jon is terrific with game flow as well as time and score, and he displays a persistent coaching approach. I am excited to work beside them but even more excited for our players to have the opportunity to learn from Jennifer and Jon.”
Jon Harper has been with Kellie for essentially her entire coaching career. The two served as assistants together at Auburn and Chattanooga, and when Kellie Harper was hired as the head coach at Western Carolina, he followed her and remained an assistant under her. Jon Harper started as a manager for Auburn and was promoted to various roles with the Tigers before leaving with Kellie Harper to Chattanooga. He and Kellie married in May of 1999. He’s been an assistant under Kellie at Western Carolina, NC State, Missouri State, and now at Tennessee.
Sullivan, meanwhile, spent five seasons under Kellie Harper at Missouri State before accepting a role on Ohio State’s coaching staff as an assistant prior to the 2018-19 season. At Missouri State, Sullivan served as the Lady Bears’ recruiting coordinator and assistant coach. She was also the recruiting coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette for a season before joining Missouri State, and she was the recruiting coordinator for Arkansas State for three seasons prior to that.
Not only has Sullivan coached for years, but she was a standout player as well. Sullivan played for Memphis from 2001-05 and was named team MVP in her senior season. She finished her playing career with 800 points, 310 rebounds and 99 steals for the Tigers.
Kellie Harper still has one more vacancy to fill on her on-court staff with the Lady Vols.