Kim Caldwell to take reins of Lady Vols basketball (2024)

Tennessee has hired Kim Caldwell, the NCAA Division I Rookie Coach of the Year, as the next leader of Lady Vols basketball.

The official announcement was made Sunday by Danny White, vice chancellor/director of athletics for Tennessee.

Kim Caldwell has been named head coach of the storied Lady Vols Basketball program.

Welcome to Rocky Top @CoachKim_!

— Lady Vols Basketball (@LadyVol_Hoops) April 7, 2024

"From the beginning, our goal has been to find a dynamic head coach who can restore our women's basketball program to national prominence," White said. "Kim Caldwell is the ideal person to lead us. Kim has a winning formula that she has successfully implemented everywhere she has coached, with a fast-paced, high-octane offense and pressure defense that has led to remarkable results.

"In this new era of college sports, it was vital that we found an innovative head coach with a strong track record of winning titles. We are eager to return the Lady Vols to a championship level, and we're confident that Kim Caldwell is the coach who can lead us back to the top."

Caldwell is expected to arrive on campus soon to meet with the current team with a news conference set for Tuesday.

Caldwell led Marshall to the Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney in her debut Division I season. That led to being named the 2024 Spalding Maggie Dixon NCAA Division I Rookie Coach of the Year. She also earned Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2023-24.

"Success in your first year as an NCAA Division I head coach is generally a difficult feat," WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew said. "When a new Division I head coach demonstrates a mastery of managing all aspects of a program, as well as producing success in competition, our coaching family pays respectful attention.

"Kim led Marshall to a remarkable season. We celebrate her effort and effectiveness on the basketball court as a teacher and equally applaud the extensive role she plays in impacting the lives of her student-athletes."

Per Knox News, Caldwell will earn $750,000 a year and signed a contract through March 31, 2029.

"I am honored and humbled to accept the role as head coach of this historic program at the University of Tennessee," Caldwell said. "I can't help but reflect on accepting the Pat Summitt Trophy three seasons ago and be moved by the great responsibility and opportunity of now leading and building upon the incredible Lady Vol tradition she built. I am so excited to get to work and can't wait to see what we all can accomplish together."

Caldwell will be introduced in a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

WBCA congratulates ?? Marshall University first-year head coach Kim Caldwell, the ? 2024 Spalding® Maggie Dixon NCAA Division I Rookie Coach of the Year ?

? to Press Release #COY #Rookie #DI #Awards@HerdWBB

— Women's Basketball Coaches Association (@WBCA1981) April 3, 2024

Before taking the job as the head coach of the Thundering Herd, Caldwell led Glenville State University in 2021-22 to its first-ever Division II national championship and a 35-1 record. She earned the Pat Summitt Trophy, which is presented annually to the national coach of the year in five divisions, as the WBCA NCAA Division II Coach of the Year in 2022. Prior to Glenville State, Caldwell served as an assistant coach at Sacramento State from 2013-16.

After being hired at Marshall, Caldwell discussed the importance of the transfer portal for recruiting.

"I do like the portal," she said HERE. "Kids aren't just getting in the portal because they don't like their coach. They're getting into the portal because they aren't getting an opportunity to play. You can find people out of it. I've always recruited transfers. Now there's a database for it. You used to have to go find them."

One of the first priorities, of course, will be to get in the 2024 portal and fill some gaps in Tennessee's roster. Caldwell also will need to meet with the returning players and establish relationships with recruits who had Tennessee on their list.

Two elite guards in Nyla Brooks in the Class of 2025, and Finley Chastain in the Class of 2027 already had committed to Tennessee. Both reopened their recruitment this week after Kellie Harper was let go, and both said they would keep the door open to be re-recruited by the Lady Vols.

Having a coach in place allows Tennessee to walk through that door, get in the portal to recruit and start preparing for high school showcase events that are in-person, crisscross the country and start April 19.

Known then as Kim Stephens, she also played at Glenville State and led the team to the 2010-11 West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth in Division II.

She played high school basketball at Parkersburg South High School for her father, Scott Stephens, who died on Nov. 21, 2020, two months after being diagnosed with a brain tumor in a story that can be read HERE. Her father, who played college basketball at Pittsburgh and Ohio University, also coached her older sisters, Anne and Jill, in high school. Stephens has said the reason she went into coaching was because of her father, who served four seasons as an assistant coach for his daughter at Glenville State before his death.

Caldwell and her husband, Justin, will celebrate their first wedding anniversary on May 20, 2024, after getting married nearly a year ago in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, at the Wildbriar Lodge. The couple's wedding information page had this nugget of solid advice about venue parking: DO NOT LEAVE FOOD IN YOUR CAR OR YOUR DOORS UNLOCKED. Bears will get in there, google it, it's an actual thing.

Justin Caldwell is an assistant coach for the men's basketball team at Marshall and prior to that was the head coach of the men's team at Glenville State when his wife was the women's head coach.

Kim Caldwell's track record of success is established. It's also a big jump to the SEC, a physical and athletic conference, with two head coaches in Dawn Staley at South Carolina and Kim Mulkey at LSU who have won national titles and recruit at high levels and the arrival of Texas and Oklahoma starting in the 2024-25 season.

On April 1, Tennessee fired Harper after five seasons. She finished in the top three of the SEC in her first four seasons and tied for fourth in her final one and reached back-to-back Sweet 16 berths before bowing out to NC State in the second round in 2024.

The bar has been raised for the next coach to win conference titles and advance further in the NCAA tourney. If Caldwell can reach that bar in a short timeframe, the hire will hold up very well.

Kim Caldwell to take reins of Lady Vols basketball (2024)
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