Warlick out as Lady Vols coach after 7 seasons

Holly Warlick has been relieved of her duties as the Tennessee women's basketball coach, the school announced Wednesday.

Warlick played for the legendary Pat Summitt, coached under Summitt and then succeeded her as the Lady Vols head coach.

"Holly and I met this afternoon, and I informed her of the decision to change leadership within the program," Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer said in a statement. "Holly has dedicated most of her adult life to the University of Tennessee and the Lady Vols program. She loves Tennessee, and Tennessee needs to always love her back. She was front and center as this program developed into the model for women's intercollegiate excellence.

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

Warlick's departure could have a direct impact on Tennessee's recruiting and at least one marquee player from its incoming class. Signee Jordan Horston, ESPN's No. 2 recruit in the class of 2019, heard the news from the bench of the McDonald's All-American game.

"I love Tennessee and I love Holly," said Horston, who was named MVP of the game. "I guess I'll have to sleep on this whole situation. I really don't want to talk about it."

Assistant coach Dean Lockwood will oversee the program until Warlick's replacement is hired.

The Lady Vols dipped to 19-13 this season and lost to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament, just the second time in school history that Tennessee exited in the first round.

Warlick guided the Lady Vols to the Elite Eight in three of her seven seasons as coach and to the Sweet 16 once. But the Lady Vols didn't make it past the opening weekend in the NCAA tournament in her final three seasons, and they were 7-9 in the Southeastern Conference this season, the first time in school history Tennessee didn't finish at least .500 in conference play.

Warlick, whom Fulmer signed to a contract extension last year, was 172-67 in seven seasons as the Lady Vols head coach. She replaced Summitt in April 2012 after spending 27 seasons as an assistant coach under Summitt. Warlick played for the Lady Vols under Summitt from 1976 to 1980, and her number was later retired.