KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The University of Tennessee announced Friday that longtime women’s soccer assistant Joe Kirt has been promoted to head coach following the departure of 2021 SEC Coach of the Year Brian Pensky.

Kirt joined Tennessee in 2007 and most recently served as associate head coach. He will now step into a leadership role after Pensky, who led the Volunteers since 2010, was named head coach of the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles.

The Brookfield, Wisconsin native has spent the last 15 years on Rocky Top where his primary role has been training goalkeepers and implementing defensive strategy.

With a record of 20-3-0, the 2021 season was among the most successful in program history. Tennessee won their first SEC Tournament since 2008 and set defensive records for the longest shutout streak in program history and total shutouts with 13.

“Joe has been an integral part of building Tennessee soccer into a championship-caliber program, and we’re going to support it at a level that matches those championship ambitions,” Tennessee Director of Athletics Danny White said. “We can’t wait to watch Tennessee soccer rise to new heights and compete for SEC and NCAA titles under Joe’s leadership.”

Following the 2021 season, Brian Pensky was named SEC Coach of the Year and the Tennessee coaching staff was named Southeast Region Staff of the Year by United Soccer Coaches.

Tennessee has won two SEC Tournament championships, two SEC Eastern Division championships and seven NCAA Tournament appearances since Kirt joined in 2007. Tennessee has produced nine All-Americans and 33 All-SEC selections during that time period.

“First, I want to thank Danny and this administration for believing in me and giving me this opportunity,” Kirt said. “I love this team and this program, and I’m so excited to see where we take it. The culture we’ve built here and the talent we have—with both returning and incoming players—is so special, and there’s no other team I’d rather be on this journey with.”

He previously served as the Director of Goalkeeping for the Texas Soccer Club’s Challenge, a youth soccer organization comprised of 29 girls’ soccer teams in Houston, Texas. During his tenure, the Challenge won a total of 14 state championships and earned a No. 14 national ranking from Soccer America magazine in 2005. He also served as an assistant coach at the University of Houston from 2000-2005.