Who will coach the Lady Vols at Tennessee?



Kim Caldwell is the new women's basketball coach for the Lady Vols. Now she has to put together a coaching staff.

Caldwell was hired Sunday, replacing Kellie Harper, who was fired April 1 after five seasons. Caldwell just completed her first year as a Division I coach at Marshall, leading the Thundering Herd to Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles. Marshall was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1997.

“There is a lot to do, so we need to put together a great staff,” Caldwell said Tuesday. “I need to build relationships with the current players that are here and then we need to make some additions, go into the portal and start recruiting. So it’s all hands on deck at the moment.”

Tennessee has not announced Caldwell's staffing levels, although it appears some positions will be filled.

Here's what you need to know about who could be on Caldwell's staff at Tennessee.

Could Kim Caldwell's husband Justin join her team?

Caldwell's husband, Justin, is also a basketball coach, although he has also coached men's basketball in recent years. Caldwell spent three seasons as an assistant at Glenville State before serving as an assistant at California (Pennsylvania) in 2016-18. He coached at Glenville State for five seasons before resigning to take an assistant position with Marshall men's basketball.

“To my husband Justin, thank you for being my hype man and humbling me when I need it too. Thank you for giving up a career in which you were exceptional so that I could pursue my dream,” Caldwell said. “Not a day will go by that I don’t thank you for that.”

It's uncertain whether Justin Caldwell will join his wife's staff, although her statement Tuesday suggests that won't happen.

Who on her Marshall staff could join Kim Caldwell?

This was reported on Tuesday that Caldwell's assistant head coach at Marshall, Jenna Burdette, will be an assistant at Tennessee. Burdette was on Caldwell's staff at Glenville State from 2018-20 and helped build the Pioneers into a championship program. Burdette coached alongside Caldwell's father, Scott Stephens, who was on her staff throughout her tenure at Glenville State until his death in 2021.

The Pioneers posted a 56-8 record and won two MEC championships while Burdette was on the team.

Burdette served as director of basketball operations at Northern Kentucky during the 2020-21 season before becoming an assistant coach at Marshall in May 2021.

“Our chemistry with each other starts with trust and has nothing to do with basketball,” Burdette said when Caldwell was hired at Marshall. “I trust her with my life and I think she feels the same way, so it's a good working relationship. In basketball, we think about things differently, which ultimately leads us to a better, more complete answer than if we thought the same way all the time.”

Who from Tennessee could stay on Kim Caldwell's staff?

It's not common for coaches to stay on the previous coach's staff, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

It's safe to assume that Jon Harper, Kellie Harper's husband, won't be staying. Liza Fruendt, who was promoted from recruiting director to assistant last summer, likely doesn't have enough experience to stay.

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Recruiting coordinator and assistant coach Samantha Williams played a role in securing commitments from Tennessee high school recruits Nyla Brooks and Finley Chastain. Both resumed recruiting after Harper was fired.

Although Joy McCorvey is a rising star in the assistant coaching ranks, it would be surprising if two assistants were retained from the current team. Williams would be a more valuable resource to Caldwell — that is, if she chooses to keep someone on Harper's staff.

Cora Hall covers women's athletics at the University of Tennessee. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @corahalll. If you like Cora's coverage, consider a digital subscription to access everything.