Nikki McCray-Penson resigns as Mississippi State’s women’s basketball head coach

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Nikki McCray-Penson has resigned as Mississippi State’s women’s basketball head coach.

McCray-Penson, a former player for the Lady Vols under legendary head coach Pat Summitt, stepped down Tuesday to focus on her health, the school announced.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 when serving as an assistant coach at South Carolina.

“Over the past several weeks, I have been faced again with I had hoped were behind me,” McCray-Penson said in a school press release. “In light of these developments, I have decided to step away from coaching in order to devote my full time and energy to addressing those issues.

“Although I look forward to returning to coaching when I am able, I believe this is the best decision for me and my family at this time.”

McCray-Penson played at Tennessee between 1991-95 and was a two-time SEC Player of the Year and a two-time Kodak All-America standout during her junior and senior seasons for the Lady Vols.

As a professional player, she was a three-time WNBA all-star (1999-2001) and the ABL Most Valuable Player in 1997.

She began coaching as an assistant at Western Kentucky before moving on to South Carolina.

McCray-Penson became the head coach at Old Dominion in 2017. She remained with the Monarchs until 2020 and was the Conference USA Coach of the Year in her final season.

Last season was her first with the Bulldogs. Mississippi State was 10-9 in a COVID-19-shortened season and missed the NCAA Tournament.

She was a two-time Olympic gold medalist in 1996 and 2000.

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