University of Charleston Athletic Director, Dr. Bren Stevens, announced the hiring of Women’s Basketball alumna, Tianni Kelly, as the next head basketball coach for the UC Women’s Basketball program.
Stevens is thrilled to bring back the 2014 graduate to lead the women’s basketball program. “I am pleased to announce Tianni Kelly as the new leader of our women’s basketball program. Tianni is incredibly bright, passionate, articulate, and possesses a high level of emotional intelligence,” said Stevens. ‘With Tianni’s many successes at other top NCAA II women’s basketball programs, she is more than prepared to oversee and inspire a team that is comprised of talented athletes that have been remarkably successful both on and off the court.”
Kelly returns home after serving as the assistant coach for the Valdosta State Blazers women’s basketball program. While with the Lady Blazers, Kelly helped lead the team to an 18-11 record during the 2019-2020 season, with the journey coming to an end during the Gulf South Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Kelly joined the Blazers in July 2019 after a two-year stint with the Florida Southern College (FSC) Mocs.
“It is an absolute privilege and honor to return to my Alma Mater in this capacity. I first arrived at the University of Charleston as an unnerved freshman in 2009, and if you would have told me then that 11 years later, I would be the head coach of this prestigious program I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Kelly. “But God had a great plan for me, and I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity.”
At Florida Southern, Kelly led the program to a 30-4 record and a Sweet Sixteen berth this past season. FSC went 18-2 in conference play under Kelly and captured both the Sunshine State Conference regular-season and tournament championships.
Kelly also coached two Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America selections this past season in Camille Giardina and Honorable Mention All-America honoree Anja Fuchs-Robetin, who both earned All-America honors previous season as well. During her two seasons at FCS, Kelly helped guide the Lady Mocs to a 55-9 record.
Adding to her accomplishments, Kelly was named to the WBCA Thirty Under 30 list, recognizing some of the top young coaches across college basketball after her first season with Florida Southern.
“We are committed to developing great students, players, and people,” said UC President Marty Roth. “Tianni’s own academic, basketball, and community accomplishments, and commitment to players’ personal growth and professional success, make her a great addition to the UC team.”
Before heading to FSC, she spent three seasons at home in Charleston, where she helped lead the Golden Eagles to 50 victories, including three-straight trips to the Mountain East Conference Tournament. She helped coach six All-Mountain East Conference selections and one CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-America selection in Nichole Perry in 2015.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to President Dr. Marty Roth and Athletic Director Dr. Bren Stevens for believing in, trusting, and choosing me to be UC’s head women’s basketball coach,” said Kelly. “UC women’s basketball has a great tradition of success. I am eager to get started and continue building on that foundation which has been set before me; it is a foundation of mentoring and empowering young women to have success on and off the court.”
Kelly, a native of Pickerington, Ohio, played for the Golden Eagles as a forward and made two appearances in the NCAA Division II Tournament (2011, 2014) and won the 2011 WVIAC regular-season title. She graduated from the University of Charleston in 2014 with a degree in business administration and sports administration and went on to earn her master’s degree in business and leadership from UC in 2015.