KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Following the Lady Vols’ first NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance since 2016, the University of Tennessee announced Thursday the contract of women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper has been extended.

Harper’s contract has now been extended through the 2026-27 season. In three seasons at Tennessee, she has led the Lady Vols to a 63-27 record and consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. She was poised to make it to the tournament in her first season before the 2020 edition was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lady Vols matched Harpers’ best ever season as a coach with a 25-9 overall record. She is one of two coaches in history to lead four different women’s programs to the NCAA Tournament.

She has made the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in two of the last four years. The first came with Missouri State in 2019 before returning to UT.

“I am so proud of the grit, toughness and passion our team played with this season,” Harper said. “Our players were a reflection of a strong culture and sisterhood.

“I’m grateful for the way our administration, the university and our fans embraced this team, and I cherish the privilege of being the head coach at my alma mater. I appreciate the support our administration and Lady Vol Nation provide our staff, our players and my family.”

Despite an up-and-down season filled with injuries to key starters like Marta Suárez, Keyen Green and Jordan Horston, Tennessee started the season 18-1 and went as high as No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

“Kellie is an amazing leader for the young women on our team and a wonderful ambassador for our university,” said UT Director of Athletics Danny White. “She operates in a first-class manner, easily connects with people, has a great vision for our women’s basketball program and is clearly taking the steps to accomplish goals that will continue to make us all extremely proud of Lady Vol basketball.

“The job she has done this season in the face of unfortunate injuries within her team has been remarkable and impressive to watch. The ‘next woman up’ mentality she instilled in her players enabled them to overcome some key personnel losses and still advance farther than the program has in some time. I look forward to next season and beyond with great anticipation.”

Harper was a member of some of the most dominant basketball teams in NCAA history when she played as a point guard under coach Pat Summitt at Tennessee. She won three national championships and three SEC Tournament titles from 1995-1999 and still ranks seventh in program history in career assists.