UK Women's Basketball

Top assistant Elzy leaves Kentucky for Lady Vols

Kyra Elzy
Kyra Elzy

Kyra Elzy, Kentucky's top assistant coach for women's basketball, will be wearing orange again next season.

Elzy, who played on two national championship teams for Tennessee, is leaving UK and joining the Lady Vols' staff of new coach Holly Warlick. Elzy will fill one of two assistant coach openings there and be the recruiting coordinator.

"I am humbled, honored and excited for the opportunity to come back to the University of Tennessee as a coach for the Lady Vols," Elzy said in a UT news release.

She did not return phone calls or text messages from the Herald-Leader on Thursday.

"First, it was incredible as a student-athlete to be part of the history, tradition and legacy of the Lady Vols during my playing days," she continued. "Now I am thankful for the privilege and the gift to return to the Tennessee program."

The LaGrange native has been the recruiting coordinator on UK Coach Matthew Mitchell's staff since 2008 and she has been responsible for helping to bring in not only the school's first-ever McDonald's All-American but also four more since then.

UK also acknowledged Elzy's departure by news release.

"I appreciate all of the time and effort Coach Elzy has put into the Kentucky program over the last four years," Mitchell's statement said. "She means a lot to me personally and I truly thank her for everything she has done to help build Kentucky to one of the best programs in the country. She indicated to me that it was her dream to return to her alma mater and coach one day and I respect that decision because I'm living my dream right now coaching at Kentucky. We wish Coach Elzy the best."

UK plans to conduct a national search to find Elzy's replacement.

Elzy's most recent one-year contract with Kentucky, which started on July 1, was for $165,000 with incentive compensation.

This year, because UK won the regular-season Southeastern Conference title, she received a bonus of two months' salary.

The current contract with Kentucky ends June 30.

Elzy is leaving a Kentucky program that probably will be in the top five next pre-season and going to one that is in flux.

The Lady Vols will be making the transition to Warlick after former coach Pat Summitt took a head coach emeritus position. Summitt was diagnosed with early- onset dementia (Alzheimer's type) last summer.

Summitt coached for 38 seasons at Tennessee and won eight titles and 1,098 games.

Tennessee loses five seniors, including its two leading scorers in Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson, and returns just six players with three signees next season.

Warlick said she was excited to have Elzy back with the Lady Vols.

"From the time she was a player on our NCAA title teams in 1997 and 1998, she possessed a coach's mentality on the floor. As I have watched her collegiate coaching career progress, I have become more impressed with her each stop along the way," Warlick said in the release.

"Kyra is a phenomenal recruiter possessing a great coaching mind and will complement Dean (Lockwood) and I perfectly. As a Lady Vol, she knows firsthand what our expectations are at Tennessee."

Mitchell and UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart indicated after the SEC title that they would sit down to negotiate new contracts as soon as the season ended.

No new contract details for Mitchell or his assistant coaches have been announced.