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Lady Vols Coach Kellie Harper Signs Contract Extension

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

Women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper and Tennessee announced a one-year contract extension Monday afternoon that runs through the 2027-28 season. The former Lady Vols point guard and fourth year coach has agreed to a one-year contract extension after each of her last three seasons.

Harper took Tennessee back to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year in 2022-23 making the Lady Vols one of just seven programs nationally that can claim the achievement.

In four seasons, Harper has led Tennessee to an 88-39 record with trips to all three NCAA Tournaments in the time frame.

“Including her tenure at Missouri State, Kellie has guided her teams to three of the past four NCAA Sweet 16s,” Director of Athletics Danny White said. “She’s among an elite group of coaches in achieving that, and it didn’t happen by accident. The Lady Vols have a strong program culture, visible player development, a commitment to excellence and intentional leadership in place, and I look forward to watching our program continue to rise under her leadership.”

The Lady Vols had an up-and-down 2022-23 season that ended up back in the Sweet 16. Tennessee entered the year ranked in the top five nationally with the program’s highest expectations in year due to returning an abundance of key players from the Sweet 16 team the year before and the addition of All-SEC transfer forward Rickea Jackson.

However, Tennessee got off to a rocky start losing seven games by Christmas and losing starting center Tamari Key for the season due to a media condition.

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The Lady Vols started to find their footing in SEC play, posting a 13-3 conference record with losses against South Carolina, LSU and Mississippi State. Harper’s fourth Tennessee team achieved its greatest win in the SEC Tournament when the Lady Vols knocked off eventual national champion LSU in the semifinals.

Tennessee annihilated 13-seed Saint Louis and 12-seed Toledo in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament before falling to one-seed Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16.

Harper and the Lady Vols return Jackson and expect to get Key back for next season though star guard Jordan Horston is off to the WNBA. Tennessee has added one player out of the transfer portal but didn’t sign any prep prospects.

“I couldn’t be more thankful for the belief and trust Danny and Tennessee have placed in me and my staff to lead the Lady Vol program where we all want to go,” Harper said. “The journey to the top isn’t easy, but I’m really proud of the investment our players have displayed in pursuing our goals and fighting through some adversity along the way.

“By playing in the 2023 SEC Tournament title game and advancing to regionals, we have built a solid foundation for next season. I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together during the years ahead.”

Tennessee has extended contracts for most coaches at the end of every season under White. Men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes is expected to sign a contract extension in the coming weeks.

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