The Tennessee women’s basketball program is now embarking on a largely unfamiliar journey: a coaching search.
For the first time in seven years, and just the second time in almost 50 years, the Lady Vols are looking for a new head coach after Holly Warlick and Tennessee parted ways on Wednesday afternoon. Here are some names that could fill the now vacant spot:
It almost seems like a pipe dream to think that Tennessee could acquire the talents of Jeff Walz, but, according to recent reports, it’s a realistic possibility. Walz currently serves as the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, a post he has held since 2007.
In his 12 years with the Cardinals, his first experience as a head coach, he has posted a 330-99 record, making him the winningest coach in the program’s history. He’s taken his team to the tournament 11 times, and they’re currently in their ninth trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
Walz fell just short of capturing a national title in 2009 and 2013, taking the runner-up spot. Louisville has been to three Final Fours under his tenure, including last season’s.
Getting him away from Louisville may be a tough task, however. Just last January, he signed a contract extension that lasts until the 2024-2025 season.
Kellie Harper is an under-the-radar candidate that most Lady Vols fans will recognize. She was a guard for Tennessee from 1995-99, part of a team that won three consecutive national championships and made an extra Elite Eight appearance in her final season.
She was inducted into the Lady Vols Hall of Fame in 2009.
Harper currently resides as the head coach at Missouri State, a position she has occupied for five years. She currently has the Lady Bears, an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament, in their first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2001.
She is just one of 11 coaches to make tournament appearances with three different teams, making the big dance with N.C. State and Western Carolina, in addition to her current school. This is the first time in her head coaching career that she has advanced past the second round.
Another former Lady Vol and Pat Summitt disciple, Nikki Fargas is in her eighth year as the head coach of another SEC school in the LSU Lady Tigers. She currently holds the second-most wins in LSU women’s basketball history, at 132.
She has also led her team to six appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
As a player at Tennessee, she won a national title in her freshman season in 1991. She served as a graduate assistant for the Lady Vols from 1998-99 and as an assistant coach under Summitt from 2002-08.
In that span, they won two national titles in 2007 and 2008 and made five appearances in the Final Four.
LSU failed to reach the NCAA Tournament this past season due to a first round loss in the SEC Tournament to Tennessee.
Tina Langley just concluded her fourth season at the helm of the Rice Owls, leading her team to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first Conference USA Tournament Championship in history.
This past season, Rice also became the first program in C-USA history to go undefeated in conference play in both the regular season and the tournament, winning both championships.
Langley has seen consistent progress in her four year tenure, with an increase in wins each season. She has also led her team to an appearance in the WNIT, advancing to the second round, and a WBI Championship in the 2016-17.
Langley would be an intriguing hire, and less expensive than all of the other options.