UK Women's Basketball

Illness forces Kentucky women's assistant coach to resign

Kentucky assistant women's basketball coach Christian Stefanopoulos gave instruction to Jennifer O'Neil during basketball media day on Oct. 29.
Kentucky assistant women's basketball coach Christian Stefanopoulos gave instruction to Jennifer O'Neil during basketball media day on Oct. 29. Lexington Herald-Leader

Christian Stefanopoulos has resigned as assistant coach for the University of Kentucky women's basketball team because she is battling an undisclosed illness, head coach Matthew Mitchell told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday.

"We are behind Christian all the way and we are supporting her through her journey back to good health," he said.

That leaves eighth-ranked Kentucky short an assistant coach and a recruiting coordinator for the rest of the season, but Mitchell said the staff had functioned well in Stefanopoulos' absence and would continue to do so.

"I'm so grateful," he said. "Everybody's just really picked it up. ... I couldn't ask for much more. This is not what you plan. It's been very tough on me because I was so worried about Christian, and then you have the job going on and the gap to fill, so it's been hard."

Crystal Riley, a former point guard at Kentucky who has been on the support staff since graduation, has been activated to an on-the-court coach position.

The Memphis native will be able to join new assistant coaches Tamika Williams and Adeniyi Amadou on the road recruiting as soon as she takes her recruiting test, Mitchell said.

"She'll be a full-time coach for the remainder of the season, then we'll figure out what we're going to do," he said.

There will not be an official recruiting coordinator; the position is being filled by committee for now.

Amy Tilley, assistant athletics director for women's basketball, is playing a large part in that. In her previous position in women's basketball, she was largely responsible for many of the duties.

"She's really organizing everything," Mitchell said. "We're still running the same system, just Amy's overseeing that."

Mitchell has been working with the guards during Stefanopoulos' absence and will continue to do that until her replacement is hired after the season.

The head coach said Kentucky's players had been great during a trying time.

"The kids were concerned about her, but they've handled it well," he said. "They understand it's a difficult situation."

Stefanopoulos, who previously was a video coordinator at Kentucky and an assistant coach under Mitchell at Morehead State, rejoined the UK staff in April.

She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Florence native's two-year deal was worth $170,000 a year with additional incentive clauses.

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