Back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16s earn Kellie Harper contract extension

 Back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16s earn Kellie Harper contract extension

(photo: UT Sports)

After the 2022-23 Lady Vols basketball team advanced to the SEC Tournament championship game and became one of only seven programs to reach the NCAA Sweet 16 in each of the past two years, Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Danny White announced Monday that Kellie Harper has agreed in principle to a contract extension through the 2027-28 season.

Harper, who recently completed her fourth season at her alma mater, guided the UT women to their highest overall (25) and SEC (13) victory totals since 2014-15. She also produced a WNBA first round draft pick for the third consecutive campaign, a feat only three other active women’s coaches and 10 all-time (including Harper and Pat Summitt) have achieved.

“Including her tenure at Missouri State, Kellie has guided her teams to three of the past four NCAA Sweet 16s,” 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.”

One of only two coaches ever to lead four different women’s programs to the NCAA Tournament, Harper carded the 15th postseason appearance during her 19 years as a head coach. She kept Tennessee perfect in NCAA Tournament berths with its 41st this season, and she heads the only program to appear in every single tourney held.

“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.”