For the second time in three years, Wes Moore has left his position as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's women's basketball coach. This time it appears for good.
After a memorable 2012-13 season that included a win over Tennessee, 29 victories and two Southern Conference titles, Moore accepted the coaching job at North Carolina State on Friday.
"I spent two years there, so I know what a great opportunity this is," said Moore, who was an assistant coach under the late Kay Yow at N.C. State from 1993 to '95.
Moore, 56, ends his 15-year run at UTC with a record of 358-113, making his overall ledger 558-169 at all three levels of the NCAA. His Lady Mocs won 12 SoCon regular-season titles and nine tournament championships. They went through a two-year title drought before sweeping the SoCon this season.
"When he told me he was going out there to interview, I told him they'd be crazy not to hire him," UTC interim athletic director Laura Herron said.
Unlike in April 2010, when he accepted the East Carolina job and then changed his mind three days later, Moore showed no doubts about his decision Friday during an interview with the Times Free Press. But that doesn't mean the decision was an easy one.
"I'm definitely less conflicted [about taking the N.C. State job], but not any less conflicted about who I'm leaving and what I'm leaving," he said. "Even though I don't show it a lot, it's been unbelievable [at UTC]. The kids here, you can't beat them."
Part of Moore's interest in East Carolina three years ago was that it would allow his wife Linda to be close to her family in North Carolina. Moore gets to fulfill that promise with the move to Raleigh. He spent quite a bit of time in the doghouse after changing his mind three years ago.
"I was in there probably until last night," he joked.
Moore will be replacing a friend and former UTC assistant, Kellie Harper, who was fired in March after going 70-64 in her four seasons, including 23-39 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Moore was a finalist for the Wolfpack job when Harper was hired. He also was a finalist for the South Carolina job in 2008.
"I've been the bridesmaid a few times, brother," he said.
Moore's departure comes when UTC is searching for a new athletic director and a new men's basketball coach. The AD search committee is interviewing candidates this weekend and Herron said a new AD could be announced within the next two weeks.
Moore's base salary at UTC was $127,000, plus $15,000 for his radio/television shows. Harper's base salary at N.C. State was $247,000.
It's possible Moore and Harper could be trading offices since she might be a candidate to replace him. Another possibility could be Wichita State coach Jody Adams, a former Bradley Central High School star who played at Tennessee.
Adams and Moore were in the same NCAA tournament first-round site -- College Station, Texas -- after she directed the Shockers to the program's first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Lady Mocs center Ashlen Dewart, a three-time All-SoCon pick, said she and her teammates were stunned when Moore told them at a 2 p.m. team meeting that he was leaving. Dewart said she was expecting to hear about offseason workouts, not the coach's departure.
"It was a shock and it was heartbreaking, for sure," said Dewart, one of six rising seniors on the roster. "We understand it and we're not bitter towards him. He's still going to be a part of our lives."
Moore said associate head coach Nikki West and assistant coach Mike Murray are going to N.C. State with him, while assistant Katie Burrows, who played for him at UTC, will remain on staff and guide the program until a new coach is hired.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeatCTFP.
John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...