Monday Missouri State athletic director Kyle Moats issued a statement to KOLR10 that the University of Tennessee requested permission to talk with Lady Bears coach Kellie Harper about its vacant women’s basketball coaching position.
Harper, a three-time national champion point guard for the Tennessee Lady Vols, just took MSU to the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in program history. In six seasons in Springfield, Harper’s teams have a 118-79 record, with two trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Bears record in conference play is 78-30 in Harper’s tenure, and her teams have won two Missouri Valley tournaments.
In a statement to KOLR10, Moats said, “The University of Tennessee has contacted me to inform me they have an interest in speaking with Coach Harper about their Women’s Head Coaching position.”
Tennessee fired Holly Warlick last week after her seventh season as head coach. Like Harper, Warlick played for legendary coach Pat Summitt, and Warlick was a longtime assistant for the all-time wins leader before taking the top job in 2012. Warlick was an assistant when Kellie (Jolly) Harper helped the Lady Vols become the first Division I women’s team to win three consecutive national championships (1996-98).
Warlick’s teams went 172-67 in her seven seasons, but failed to reach the Sweet 16 in each of her final three seasons, including just the second first-round exit in program history two weeks ago. Finishing 19-13, Tennessee failed to reach 20 wins for the first time in 43 years.
Warlick made $690,000 in her final year in Knoxville. Harper is under contract through the 2020-21 season with Missouri State, earning $246,640 per year.