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Many universities and professional teams have tried to woo her away during 18 years with the Tennessee Lady Volunteers but UT associate head coach Mickie DeMoss has chosen Kentucky.
DeMoss is the new head coach of the Kentucky women's basketball team, director of athletics Mitch Barnhart has announced. The appointment is pending approval by the UK Athletics Association Board of Directors.
"We are very excited to hire the top assistant coach from the most outstanding program in women's basketball history," Barnhart said. "Having watched her coach for several years, I already was well aware of her coaching acumen and dynamic personality. I feel that Mickie is the best choice to lead our women's basketball program into national prominence."
"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity at Kentucky," DeMoss said. "It's a program where great things can happen. The men's team is obviously one of the best in the country and the women are in the best conference. Mitch and President Todd (Dr. Lee T. Todd Jr.) have stepped up to the plate and made a commitment to women's basketball.
"The timing was just perfect. It's a time in my career when I am ready for a new challenge to have my own program to build. When Kentucky presented this opportunity it was a very good fit. Again, the commitment is there and it's time for Kentucky to go on the national scene in women's basketball."
DeMoss has 26 years of collegiate coaching experience that began in 1977 as an assistant at Memphis State. After receiving her master's degree in education, she went on to become the first full-time coach for women's basketball at Florida from 1979-83. She compiled a 45-68 overall record with the Lady Gators before leaving to join the nationally ranked Auburn Tigers under the direction of Joe Ciampi.
Two years later DeMoss was hired by Pat Summitt as the top assistant at Tennessee and has become one of the most highly visible assistant coaches in the game. Under DeMoss' tutelage, the Lady Volunteers have compiled an impressive 549-76 (.878) record, an unprecedented six NCAA championship titles and 12 Final Four appearances.
"Obviously we are very excited for Mickie to have this opportunity," Summitt said. "She's been very comfortable here at Tennessee and she always said if the right situation came along she would look at it. I think Kentucky is a great fit and I know she is excited about working with Mitch Barnhart.
"No one is more familiar with the league than Mickie. She is even more familiar than me, being with three different programs. Mickie is regarded as a top recruiter from her peers but I think what she has also brought to our program is her knowledge of the game, teaching skills and excellence as a bench coach. She has been a tremendous asset to our program and instrumental to our six national titles. There will be tears shed today because the team just adores her but we are excited for her. I know she will do a great job at Kentucky."
As the recruiting coordinator for Tennessee for the past 18 seasons, DeMoss has brought in some of the top players in UT history, including Chamique Holdsclaw, a four-time All-American and the Most Outstanding Player at both the 1997 and 1998 NCAA Final Fours; Tonya Edwards, the 1987 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player; and Tamika Catchings, Kodak All-American and the 2000 Naismith Player of the Year.
DeMoss also helped recruit noteworthy talent at Auburn from 1983-85. The Tigers went to the NCAA Tournament in both of her seasons on the staff. In the four seasons following her departure, with the players DeMoss helped recruit, Auburn went 119-13 and advanced to two NCAA Final Fours.
DeMoss is a 47-year old native of Tallulah, La., and is a graduate of Louisiana Tech, where she received a bachelor of science degree in physical education in 1977. She was the starting point guard for the Lady Techsters for three seasons for then-coach Sonja Hogg and helped build La Tech into the national power it is today. She still holds the school record for most shots attempted in a single game.
Currently, the Lady Vols are 28-4 and are preparing to make a run for their seventh national title. UT will play host to Alabama State on Saturday, March 22 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Knoxville, Tenn. DeMoss will continue to help coach the Lady Vols until their season is complete. DeMoss replaces Bernadette Mattox who coached the Wildcats for eight seasons before resigning on March 10.
Quotes On DeMoss
"In my opinion the University of Kentucky has hit a home run, a grand slam, with the hiring of Mickie DeMoss. With her experience and ability to recruit there is no one that is more ready to become a head coach than her. I told Pat Summitt years ago that she would win national championships with Mickie DeMoss on her coaching staff. Mickie has high standards and she will expect everyone around her to meet that high bar."
Van Chancellor - WNBA Houston Comets head coach
"The list of what she will bring to Kentucky is infinitely long. She is a gem not only as a coach but as a person. She relates so well to the players. Her personality will bring student-athletes to her program, the alumni will love her, the fans will love her. She has so many facets to her personality that are so positive. Kentucky will reap many benefits from her representing the school. She will be a tremendous ambassador. She also is a great storyteller and communicator. She can entertain an entire room."
Nell Fortner - WNBA Indiana Fever head coach/general manager and ESPN women's basketball analyst
"(DeMoss is) One of the brightest basketball minds in the women's game who has dedicated her professional life to women's basketball and has learned from the best there ever has been in the game. Her personality certainly will win fans right away and her ability to relate to players will make Kentucky a winner in the very, very near future."
Dave Neal - "Voice of the SEC" for Fox Sports Net
"Having coached her on the very first Lady Techster basketball team, even from that first day I knew Mickie was a special young lady. She was not only a great basketball player but had a way with her teammates. She is one of those born leaders. It's been fun to be involved with a lot of decisions in her career and I'm thrilled that she will be the next head coach at Kentucky."
Sonja Hogg - Former Louisiana Tech women's basketball coach
"For years, Mickie has been the top assistant in the country, the top recruiter and a great motivator of her players. Now she has earned the opportunity to put it all together as a head coach and put her mark on the SEC and women's basketball in general. I had great admiration for her when she was with us at Auburn, then at Tennessee and now as the head coach at Kentucky. Really, the sky's the limit for her."
Joe Ciampi - Auburn women's basketball coach