Warlick first Lady Vols basketball coach to be fired

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Lady Vols program will be searching for its third head coach in the modern era of Women's basketball. Holly Warlick is the program's first coach to be fired marking the first ever coaching search for a Lady Vols basketball head coach, which the university said started Wednesday, March 27.

"While it certainly stings to make this decision, I am charged with doing what I believe is best for this storied program," Fulmer said in a news release. "It's important to all of us that Lady Vols basketball maintains its status among the elite."

A report suggested that the coach search could lead to Louisville; however, the head coach of their women's basketball program, Jeff Walz, said on March 27, before the announcement of Warlick's departure, that "Their job's not open. I'm not gonna worry about that, and we're gonna focus on our basketball team."

Coaching possibilities

Despite his denials, Walz is still a possibility for the vacancy. Walz began coaching Louisville in 2007, and his team is the current no. 1 seed, and they made the Final Four last year. This season, his team is 31-3. So far, his career is 322-97 at Louisville. Walz's buyout from Louisville is $1.5 million, according to WVLT's sports contributor Chri Low.

Fulmer could pursue North Carolina State head coach Wes Moore. The longtime head coach has a 112-52 record since taking over with the Wolfpack in 2013. Moore previously spent 15 years as head coach at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. While at Chattanooga, Moore's team won over the Lady Vols during the 2012-13 season.

Missouri State head coach Kellie Jolly Harper is another possibility. She played for the Lady Vols as a guard and was a major part of the 3-in-a row national championships the team had in the mid-90s. They play Stanford in the Sweet 16 on Saturday.

LSU head coach Nikki Fargas (Caldwell) is a former Lady Vol (1990-1994) and was an assistant to former coach Pat Summitt during the 1998-99 season, and later in the 2002-03 season. Fargas was named head coach with UCLA before taking the job at LSU in 2011.

On April 18, 2012, Pat Summitt handed the whistle over to Warlick as she stepped down due to medical concerns. Summitt passed away in 2016.

Warlick started off hot winning the 2013 regular season championship then winning the 2014 SEC Tournament championship. The Lady Vols added another regular season title in 2015. Like Pat Summitt, Warlick's style was tough but efficient as she sent eleven players to the WNBA Draft including Diamond DeShields, Mercedes Russell, Isabelle Harrison, Ariel Massengale, Isabelle Harrison and Cierra Burdick.

Even in the classroom, Holly and her staff continued the tradition of graduating 100% of her players that came through the program.

After a 30-win season in 2014, things began to decline for the program. The team hasn't finished better than 4th place in the SEC since the 2015-2016 season. Which, in the case of Lady Vol Basketball, is something out of the norm for a program that never finished below 5th place under Pat Summitt.

The 2018-2019 season was the tipping point for Holly's tenure as head coach. The team went on a six-game losing streak in the middle of the season and were immediately recognized as a team that might not make the NCAA Women's Tournament. After finding some rhythm following the losing streak, the Lady Vols then dropped three straight games before winning in the season finale against Ole Miss finishing the season 19-12 (7-9 SEC).

For all things coaching search, follow WVLT for continuous updates.