Phillip Fulmer on Holly Warlick extension: 'No one better suited' to lead Lady Vols

Mike Wilson
Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer is greeted by Lady Vols head coach Holly Warlick before the start of the game against  South Carolina on Sunday, February 25, 2018.

Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer believes "there is no one better suited" to lead Lady Vols basketball than Holly Warlick.

On Friday, Fulmer announced a contract extension through the 2021-22 season for Warlick, who also received a $25,000 raise. 

"Holly has dedicated the majority of her adult life to Lady Vols basketball, and there is no one better suited to lead what is one of the most unique and tradition-laden programs in the sport." Fulmer said in a school release. "In her six years as head coach — during which women's college basketball has experienced a tremendous surge in parity — very few programs have produced the level of success that Tennessee has maintained. ...

"The combination of Holly's leadership and love for her alma mater, the Lady Vols' longstanding legacy of excellence and the most passionate fans in the nation points toward continued success in the future."

Warlick, who is coming off her sixth season as head coach, confirmed Wednesday that she had signed a contract extension. 

The extension increases Warlick's annual compensation to $690,000 annually. Her previous contract paid $665,000 annually and was set to expire after the 2018-19 season.

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According to the Clarion Ledger, Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer is the highest-paid women's basketball coach in the SEC after signing a deal worth $1.596 million annually in July. South Carolina's Dawn Staley previously was the highest-paid after signing a contract worth $1.45 million after the Gamecocks won the 2017 national title.

Warlick's extension features a buyout of 33 percent of the remaining pay on the contract if Warlick is terminated without cause before March 31, 2020. The buyout drops to $690,000 for the following year, then decreases to the remaining salary for the final year of the contract.

In an October 2014 amendment to Warlick's original contract, her buyout was set as all remaining base pay — $350,000 annually, at the time — on the contract if she was terminated without cause on or after April 1, 2016.

Warlick, a former Lady Vols All-American guard, was an assistant on former head coach Pat Summitt’s staff for 27 years, including seven as associate head coach. She has a 153-54 record as UT's head coach and has led the Lady Vols to the NCAA Tournament in each of her six years.

"I am excited about the future of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball and appreciate the support of Coach Fulmer, the university and our tremendous fan base," Warlick said in a statement. "My staff and I are excited about our combination of returnees and newcomers and are anxious to continue working with these young ladies and preparing them for the 2018-19 season."

Tennessee’s season ended with a 66-59 loss to Oregon State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The loss at Thompson-Boling Arena ended UT’s 57-game home winning streak in the tournament.

UT has made the Elite Eight three times under Warlick, but has not advanced past the second round in the past two seasons.