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Holly Warlick drove to work Wednesday, following the same routine she has for the past 23 years as a member of the Tennessee women’s basketball coaching staff.
“My car’s on autopilot,’’ she said jokingly.
So is the driver. Warlick will stay that way after South Carolina chose Temple coach Dawn Staley to fill the head-coaching opening for which Warlick interviewed twice.
All in all, Warlick is fine with the status quo.
“I have a great job right now,’’ the Lady Vols associate head coach said. “There’s no disappointment I’m here, trust me. It (South Carolina) was an opportunity, but I have a good situation here.”
Instead of being down another assistant, the Lady Vols are back to full strength. Former Lady Vol Daedra Charles-Furlow was announced Wednesday as the new assistant. She replaces Nikki Caldwell, who departed last month to become head coach at UCLA.
Charles-Furlow, the former Wade Trophy winner, was an assistant on Auburn’s staff the past two seasons. She called the UT job, “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“As a former player, she understands both the system and the expectations of the Tennessee program,’’ UT coach Pat Summitt said. “That combination should prove to be a valuable asset.”
Staley will be introduced Saturday as the Gamecocks’ new coach, pending approval of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees that day.
The State newspaper reported that Staley will earn a base salary of $250,000 with the total package at $650,000. Citing a source, the newspaper also reported Staley’s contract includes a clause stating that the school will help Staley in paying the buyout clause in her contract with Temple.
“I always thought that could be a great program,’’ Warlick said of South Carolina. “This was one that I thought I could’ve done well in. It just didn’t work out.”
So Warlick was back to work at Tennessee, saying, “I haven’t missed a beat. I have a great job. I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
Warlick, a three-time All-American as a Lady Vols player, joined UT’s coaching staff in 1985. She became the associate head coach in 2003, after Mickie DeMoss departed to become the head coach at Kentucky.
“I think it was a mixed bag all along for her (Warlick),’’ Summitt said. “Holly loves it here. It’s her alma mater. It wasn’t like she was out searching to leave the program. But it (South Carolina) was a place that would be appealing to her.”
Warlick didn’t rule out considering future head-coaching openings. Her track record, though, suggests selectivity. Before this spring, her last interviews were for the openings at Indiana and Clemson in 2005.
“I’m never going to say no,’’ she said. “But it has to be a good circumstance I’m going to.”
In the meantime, Warlick will be busy with a different sort of drive. She and Caldwell climb aboard motorcycles Sunday for a week-long trip to Key West and back to raise money and awareness concerning breast cancer.
As a kick-off event, Warlick and Caldwell will host a motorcycle ride and a post-ride gathering Saturday from Wild Wings Cafe off Campbell Station Road in Farragut. The ride starts at 4 p.m. and returns at 6:30 p.m. Riders pay $50 ($75 for couples) for the ride, a t-shirt, live music and all-you-can-eat appetizers. Pre-registration is required at cruisinforacause.com.
The public may attend the post-ride party with a $10 donation serving as an entry fee.