KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – When listeners tune their radios to Lady Vol basketball games this season, they’ll hear a new voice for the first time in over 20 years.

Mickey Dearstone and Head Coach Pat Summitt of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers during a radio broadcast after a game. Photo By Tennessee Athletics Courtesy: UT Athletics

The University of Tennessee announced Tuesday that Brian Rice, a longtime Knoxville radio personality and play-by-play announcer for Lady Vol Softball, will take over as the voice of Lady Vol Basketball on the Vol Network.

He’ll replace the outgoing radio voice Mickey Dearstone as the radio play-by-play announcer and host of the Kellie Harper TV Show. Dearstone announced his retirement this spring after 23 seasons on the air.

Rice will become just the third person to hold the role on a full-time basis after the legendary John Ward first began calling select games in 1977-1978.

“Serving as the voice of Lady Vol basketball is an important role in support of one of the most storied programs in college sports,” Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White said. “As fans who have followed Tennessee softball in recent years can attest, Brian is well prepared for this unique opportunity. As a UT alum and lifelong fan, Brian is well versed in the history and tradition of the program and is passionate about sharing its stories from the past, present and future.”

Photo: Tennessee Athletics/

A Knoxville native and two-time Tennessee graduate, Rice began calling Tennessee softball games in 2013. He also has called play-by-play for Tennessee baseball, soccer and volleyball for and SEC Network+.

“Brian Rice is one of the best in the business,” Tennessee Softball Head Coach Karen Weekly said. “He is most deserving of this opportunity, and I can’t think of anyone better or more prepared to be the next voice of Lady Vol basketball.”

The Lady Vol Radio Network is one of the largest collegiate women’s basketball radio networks in the country and one of the first radio networks to build an expansive affiliate list.

“I am honored to be chosen to represent the most powerful brand in women’s college athletics in Tennessee Lady Vol basketball,” Rice said. “I am incredibly excited to get started and share the stories of our student-athletes while painting a picture of the action for our loyal fans on the Lady Vol Radio Network.

“The list of names that have called games for this program represents an elite group that I am humbled to be given the opportunity to be a part of. Lady Vol basketball has been broadcast by legends of the business as well as heroes of mine and every other Tennessee fan that grew up listening across the state and around the world.”

Rice will also assist with other promotional duties for the winningest program in women’s college basketball history. The Lady Vols enter the 2022-23 campaign ranked No. 4 nationally in ESPN’s “Way-Too-Early” Top 25. Head coach Kellie Harper welcomed Rice to his new role in Tuesday’s release.

“All of us in the Lady Vol program extend a warm welcome to Brian and look forward to working alongside him,” Harper said. “He is so passionate about the university and the athletics department, and his combination of love and respect for Lady Vol basketball is abundantly clear. Brian built his broadcast reputation calling Lady Vol Softball and other events, and I look forward to him utilizing his talents, experience and platform to share Lady Vol basketball’s story as well.”