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What Tennessee AD Danny White Said About Hiring Kim Caldwell

Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee Director of Athletics Danny White officially introduced Kim Caldwell as Lady Vols basketball’s fourth ever head coach on Tuesday afternoon.

White discussed Caldwell’s exciting style of play, how she impressed him during their interview and much more during the introductory press conference. Here’s everything White said.

More From RTI: Everything Kim Caldwell Said In Her Introductory Press Conference

Opening Statement

“I appreciate you all coming together today. It’s a big day on Rocky Top, and we are excited about our future and understand how important these transitions, these pivots, are in the history of a program. I want to thank Kellie Harper, her husband Jon and their family for all they did for the basketball program the last five years. Obviously, Kellie is a Lady Vol for Life as a former student-athlete. An enormous part of why we are here and why women’s basketball and women’s sports at large is where it is in this country is because of the legendary Pat Summitt. We understand the enormous responsibility that being a caretaker and steward of this program is because of all she accomplished here. I also want to thank Holly Warlick and all the contributions she made as head coach of our program.

“This is only the fourth head coach of our women’s basketball program who we will be introducing today, which is a rare thing in college athletics these days. This is a historic program in a historic moment, and it gives us great excitement about our future. We had a great search committee of athletics leadership and athletic administration. I want to thank all of those [who served]. A lot of folks put in a lot of time on this search. We took it extremely seriously, and the time investment and work involved was significant.

“Our student-athletes were awesome. I met with our team first. As you’ve heard me talk about before, it’s the first thing we always do. They voted on a leadership group, and then we met with that group. It was very helpful to give us insight on what’s going on inside the program. There are a lot of great things happening in our program. We talked about—spinning off our chancellor’s comments from earlier this year—as a university, we are good but want to be great. Sometimes the enemy of great can be good. As a women’s basketball program, we want to get back to competing for Southeastern Conference and National Championships. Our student-athletes have that ambition, and we are not on a three-, four- or five-year plan; they talked about wanting to win next year. We wanted to make sure we are positioning ourselves to be competitive right away. Their comments and their education were very helpful for me when understanding what’s going on in our program and helping me vet candidates. I know we’ve matched the very best coach for our team now in the present and certainly in the future.

“As we went through this, we were looking for a coach for them. I felt like it was important as a committee and as an athletic director that we needed to be selfless in these endeavors and make sure that we are trying to find the right individual for this institution and for our team. We were very fast; it took us about a week, but we were very methodical and weren’t going to rush a decision. We cast a very wide net and talked to basically anybody you could think of or connected to people you could think of. Candidates at all different levels all across the country. There was no stone unturned. The prerequisite for this search, and something I was unbending on, was how was this person going to bring us back to the top. We weren’t looking for a possible solution that got us back to being maybe more relevant. We wanted someone with an enormous upside and trajectory, and I will tell you why I think we found that. [We looked at] different styles of play. We were open to all sorts of ways to approach the game, but we are never going to hire a head coach who lacks integrity and strong character. [We want] someone who cares about student-athletes and is coaching for the right reason. We have that person. We wanted someone who is competitive and confident. You will see that we have a very competitive new coach. We wanted someone who wasn’t afraid of the challenge to restore this legendary program to where we all want it to be. I’ve talked about this before when introducing coaches. There’s a lot of speculation around coaching searches, and we like to talk about names. Interviews do matter. In a search, we pay attention to and do a lot of research beforehand, but the interviews do matter. I think anyone on our committee would tell you that there was one interview that stood out above the rest in a significant way. It was a really impactful interview in terms of who she is as a leader and as a person and how she presented herself. I think the style of play is very compelling with where the game is going. I think it resonates with the current players, and I was happy to see you all smiling when I was introducing Kim to you. In terms of prospective players in the future, I think it’s a compelling and exciting style of play. For fans, if you like what you’re seeing inside of Neyland Stadium in terms of the amount of points we score, I think you are going to like what you see on the basketball floor, with the offensive and defensive attacking in a competitive style of play. In very short order, we will have the fastest style of basketball in the country.

“I’m really excited about Kim and introducing her to you today. I think she’s not only going to make an enormous impact with our current student-athletes but build a program that is distinctive and allows us to compete with some formidable opponents in the Southeastern Conference and get us back to competing for National Championships. With that, I am proud to introduce to you the fourth head coach in Lady Vol basketball history, your new head coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball, Kim Caldwell.”

On the importance of hiring someone with a noticeable playing style

“We talk about our history, looking back, and so then looking forward, what our expectations might be – how are we going to get there? I think anytime that I’m in a coaching search, I’m thinking about what makes us distinctive. In this instance, I think she makes us distinctive in terms of who she is and how she conducted herself in the interview. I think she’s going to really connect with our players, but her style of play certainly makes us very distinctive, and I think that’s where the sport is going. The pace of play, both in men’s and women’s basketball, is becoming more and more a factor, and I think that she’s on the cutting edge. We talk about leading the way in college sports here at Tennessee, and I think Kim helps us do that.”

On what Coach Caldwell said in her interview that impressed him

“What she said and how she said it. A lot about how she coaches her teams and connects with her players. Then also the style of play and the reasons behind it; it’s very well thought out. The numbers and metrics, which made me want to talk to her, speak for themselves. It’s pretty compelling.”

On the benefits of hiring a coach that’s ‘on the rise’

“I think it gives us tremendous upside and excitement about where we can go. We have an unbelievable, historic brand. We have great support with this fan base. Players want to play at Tennessee. I think we can get talent here; I know we can. With this exciting style of play, I think it makes it even more compelling for players to want to come here.”

On how Coach Caldwell’s introductory press conference compared to her interview

“I would agree with your [positive] assessment of today, and it didn’t surprise me. She’s a pretty talented leader and she’s going to be great for our team.”

On whether it was important to hire someone who was not a part of the Lady Vol program previously

“I was obviously aware of that history; it’s something that we thought about. That is a characteristic when you talk about fit that would be one of the things we would consider. Did we have a candidate pool that was restricted to only former players? No. We also weren’t averse to having former players; we just want to pull a bunch of candidates.”

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