Tennessee fires Lady Vols coach Kellie Harper after 5 seasons

Tennessee has fired Kellie Harper as the Lady Vols coach after five seasons.

Athletic director Danny White announced Monday that Harper would not return. White said he told Harper the university was making a change after a “thorough review” of the women’s basketball program.

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“Decisions like these are never easy to make, especially with someone who has done so much for the Lady Vols as a three-time national champion student-athlete,” White said in a statement. “Her love and passion for Tennessee and the Lady Vols is second to none. She has invested so much heart and soul into our program and truly has given her all for Tennessee.”

Harper finishes her tenure coaching at her alma mater with a 108-52 record, including 53-24 in Southeastern Conference play. She had become one of only two coaches to take four different programs to the NCAA Tournament.

But that’s not the standard at Tennessee, where she helped win three straight national titles herself under the late Pat Summitt.

White said he talked with the Lady Vols and plans an aggressive search for the next leader of a program with eight national championships. Tennessee hasn’t won a national title since 2008 with Summitt. The Lady Vols have not reached a Final Four since then.

Harper coached the Lady Vols to consecutive Sweet 16s each of the past two seasons. But Tennessee lost to her former boss Wes Moore and North Carolina State in the second round 79-72 to end her fifth season.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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