Mitchell named first male coach of UK women's hoops

Updated: April 25, 2007, 2:24 PM ET
Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Matthew Mitchell was introduced Monday as the first male coach in the 36-year history of women's basketball at Kentucky.

Mitchell signed a five-year contract worth $250,000 annually, plus incentives, to leave Morehead State and replace Mickie DeMoss, whom he assisted at Kentucky for two years.

"Every move I've made has been a mission to prepare myself for this moment," the 36-year-old Mitchell said. "I've also followed my heart and it has led me to Kentucky. Two years ago when I was an assistant here, I felt I needed the experience as a head coach to be where I am today. I'm greatly appreciative of the opportunity that I had at Morehead. I'm ready to be the head coach at Kentucky."

DeMoss resigned abruptly after four years at Kentucky, saying she needed "some time to myself right now."

DeMoss, an assistant at Tennessee for 18 years, was 71-56 at Kentucky.

Mitchell was 30-29 in two seasons at Morehead State.

After inheriting a team that went 5-22, Mitchell led the Eagles to a 16-13 finish in his first season. Morehead State set a school record with 13 Ohio Valley Conference wins in his second season and finished 14-16.

"Matthew Mitchell brings incredible passion and enthusiasm for the women's basketball program at Kentucky," athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. "He was here at the beginning of the transition of this program and helped lay the foundation for the growth that we've had. He aspires to continue the growth pattern that Mickie DeMoss put in place over the last four years, seeking to take Kentucky women's basketball to championship levels."

While at Kentucky, Mitchell helped develop post players, including senior center Sarah Elliott and power forward Jennifer Humphrey, who graduated last year.

Elliott ranked in the top 10 of the Southeastern Conference in rebounding and blocks, while Humphrey finished her career as UK's second-leading career rebounder.

The players learned Sunday that Mitchell would be their new coach and attended the news conference Monday.

"Coach Mitchell is a great person," Elliott said. "He will make an awesome coach.

"When I first saw him walk through the door when we found out, it was a big weight off my chest. I was so excited and happy it was him."

Mitchell was an assistant at Florida for three seasons and a graduate assistant at Tennessee.

The appointment is pending approval by the UK Athletics Association Board of Directors.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press