The 58-year-old Fanning-Otis announced Monday that she will retire as Mississippi State women's basketball coach after 17 years on the job. Once the season is over, she'll move into an athletic development position with the Bulldog Club and start raising money for the athletic department.
Fanning-Otis spoke with MSU officials about her decision Monday morning and broke the news to her team in the afternoon, and there were a few tears.
"This wasn't what we expected, I know that much," said Diamber Johnson, a senior guard from Pontotoc.
According to Johnson, Fanning-Otis told the team that she was wanting to spend more time with family, including husband Larry Otis, the former Tupelo mayor. They married in 2008.
"You have a different family perspective than you had before," Fanning-Otis said. "You don't know when these things are going to present themselves, and this just happens to be the right time."
Record of success
Fanning-Otis has a record of 281-229 at MSU. She was previously head coach at Kentucky and UT Chattanooga and has a career record of 608-457.
MSU has reached the NCAA tournament six times under Fanning-Otis, including the program's only Sweet 16 appearance in 2010.
"My mom always said, wherever you are, always leave it better than what you found it," she said. "You just want to make sure things are better, and that's what I want to do as I go into the next whatever situation that I'm in, and this particular situation is fundraising."
With two games left in the regular season, the Lady Bulldogs are 14-13 overall, 4-10 in SEC play. Addressing the team Monday, Fanning-Otis steered the focus back to the task at hand.
"At the end of it all, she said, 'Let's go get these two wins, and let's go win the dadgum SEC tournament,' " Johnson said. "She's still worried about how we'll finish."