Considered a failure at NC State six years ago, Kellie Harper has re-established herself and now will be asked to restore her alma mater to its former glory.
After a coaching search that mentioned everyone from established veterans like Jeff Walz and Kim Mulkey, to Tennessee alums who have never coached at the collegiate level like Kara Lawson, the school has finally settled on a mixture of the two: Kellie Harper.
The news was first broken by Fox News Knoxville.
A point guard on three Lady Vol national championship teams, Harper (formerly Jolly) most recently led Missouri State to the Sweet Sixteen this season, running her record at the school to 118-79 (78-30) with five postseason trips in six seasons.
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Before her time at Missouri, Harper led NC State for four seasons and had a mixed bag of results. After going 20-14 and finishing tied for fifth in the ACC, good enough for an NCAA tournament selection in her first season, the team failed to make the tournament again the next three seasons and she was promptly fired.
Her assignment at NC State came after a successful five-season run at Western Carolina where she led the Catamounts to two NCAA tournaments and three-straight 20 win seasons.
Overall, she has a career record of 285-208 (163-101), with five NCAA tournament appearances and seven WNIT berths.
The initial reaction has been mixed, as her recent success cannot be ignored, but nor can her underwhelming stay at NC State. It’s fair to wonder if she wasn’t an alum if she would have been considered for the job, but that point is moot now.
What it does tell us is that the school still very much attaches itself to Pat Summitt, something that could either work in Harper’s favor or against her, as we saw with Holly Warlick when she began “struggling.”
Warlick was let go after going 172-67 (78-34) in seven seasons, making the NCAA tournament every year and advancing to three Elite Eights. The past three seasons, however, the team failed to get out of the first weekend and that led to her dismissal.
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