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Kentucky women's basketball coach Mickie DeMoss announced the hiring of Niya Butts, a former standout at Tennessee, as an assistant coach Wednesday, April 23, 2003. Butts joins Matthew Mitchell and Pam Stackhouse on the coaching staff.
"Niya brings an unbelievable competitive spirit to our program," DeMoss said. "She has been a part of two national championships at Tennessee and has gone on to become an outstanding coach. She made significant differences at Tennessee Tech and Michigan State, and we are excited to have her join us at Kentucky."
Butts comes to the Bluegrass after one season as an assistant coach at Michigan State under head coach Joanne P. McCallie. Butts helped coach the Spartans to a 17-12 overall record this season and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The Spartans finished with a 10-6 mark in the Big Ten and recorded wins over three nationally ranked teams, including two wins over top-10 teams for the first time in school history.
"Niya is an outstanding person and has done a terrific job at Michigan State," McCallie said. "We wish her the best and I'm sure she will do great things for Kentucky basketball."
Prior to MSU, Butts spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tenn. The Golden Eaglettes won the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) regular-season championship in both 2001 and 2002. Tech finished with a 24-6 overall mark in Butts' first season and compiled a 22-8 record and were the OVC co-champions with a 13-3 record in her second year.
In three years as an assistant coach, Butts has compiled an impressive 63-26 overall record (70.7%).
At Tennessee, Butts was a four-year letterwinner (1996-2000) and a member of two NCAA Championship teams (1997 and 1998). The Lady Vols won three SEC titles (1998, 1999 and 2000) during her tenure and she was voted the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year in 1997. She also won the Lady Vols' Unsung Hero Award that season. Butts was a three-time Academic All-SEC selection (1998, 1999 and 2000) and earned UT's Academic Achiever of the Week four times. She played in 111 career games at UT and graduated in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in social work and a minor in psychology. She received a master's degree in education from Tennessee Tech in 2002.
"I'm excited because I was recruited by Mickie and played for her at UT for four years," Butts said. "I closely watched her work and how she related to the players. I thought if I ever got into coaching I would want to work for Mickie DeMoss. She is a great coach and the chance to work for her is a great situation for me. Kentucky has always been attractive because it's known for basketball. It's an awesome state that is basketball crazy and Lexington a beautiful city."
The 25-year old is a native of Americus, Ga., and will make her home in Lexington.