LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After 13 seasons in Lexington, University of Kentucky women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell abruptly retired Thursday night, stating he did not feel he could "give the job what it requires at this time."
Mitchell, the winningest coach in program history, underwent brain surgery in June, four months after he fell and suffered a concussion. Doctors removed a subdural hematoma.
"I have been open about the fact that the surgery and recovery process has been life-altering for me and my family," Mitchell said in a statement from UK Athletics. "Through that, my priorities towards my family and my faith has grown even larger than before and that has led me to make this decision. Although so much about today is sad because I will greatly miss the relationships and people that have constantly lifted up my family and me the last 13 years, I am resolute in my decision and comfortable with beginning the next chapter of my life."
Mitchell leaves Kentucky with a 303-133 record. He was hired as the Wildcats' head coach in 2007.
"(Mitchell) has been a great ambassador for the University of Kentucky, on and off the court, bringing an energy and style of play that made it fun for players and fans alike," Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. "In addition, Matthew and Jenna have woven themselves into the fabric of the community with a tremendous generosity of time, treasure and spirit. Matthew, Jenna and their children always will be part of the Wildcat family and we wish them the very best as they enter the next stage of their lives."
Associate head coach Kyra Elzy will take over as interim coach, UK Athletics announced in a news release. Elzy and Barnhart will hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Friday to discuss the coaching change.
"Coach Mitchell means so much to me and I owe him an enormous amount of gratitude for his guidance throughout my coaching career," Elzy said in a statement. "This is not an easy day for any of us as we come to grips with his decision to retire. My immediate focus is on our players and making sure that they are dealing with this change that has happened so abruptly. As you can understand, this has been difficult for them to process."
The Wildcats begin the 2020-21 season with Big Blue Madness on Nov. 20 at Memorial Coliseum.
This story may be updated.
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