“Our program is heartbroken to lose a member of our Lady Vol sisterhood much, much too soon,” UT head coach Kellie Harper said. “Tasha was the type of person who connected with people everywhere she went. She had such a positive impact not only on our Tennessee family but on women’s basketball as a whole. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of her family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”
Butts, a 5-foot-11 guard during her playing days on Rocky Top, hailed from Milledgeville, Ga., and graduated from Baldwin County High School. She was a consensus All-American and the Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year there and remains the all-time leading scorer at BCHS. Her high school jersey No. 23 was retired in December 2000.
Playing at Tennessee and wearing No. 3 from 2000-04, Butts helped Tennessee win four SEC regular season titles and advance to three NCAA Final Fours. The Lady Vols were runners-up at the 2003 and 2004 Final Fours and placed third in 2002. She and her teammates compiled incredible records of 124-17 overall and 55-1 in conference games during that period.
Butts averaged 6.4 points and 3.8 rebounds for her career, shooting 37.2 percent from the field, 35.5 on threes and 79.3 on free throws. She finished her time at UT with 908 points, 540 rebounds, 250 assists and 115 steals in 141 games. That total of games played stands as the seventh-most in program history.
As a senior, she averaged a career-best 10.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists, starting 34 of 35 contests while moving to the point guard position after a season-ending injury to Loree Moore. Butts shot career bests of 40.8 on field goals, 38.6 on threes and 81.8 at the charity stripe. She also had bests of 99 assists, 13 blocks and 40 steals.
Her production as a senior in 2003-04 earned Butts Coaches All-SEC Second Team honors as well as third-team accolades from the Associated Press. She also was chosen for the SEC Good Works Team, which recognizes outstanding community service.
Among Butts’ highlights in 2003-04, she hit a pair of game-winning shots with less than two seconds remaining to help secure victories over Baylor and Stanford to send Tennessee to the 2004 NCAA Midwest Regional Final and Final Four, respectively. Her efforts earned her All-NCAA Midwest Regional acclaim.
Earlier in the season she scored a career-high 37 points, with 26 of those coming in the second half at Vanderbilt on Feb. 15, 2004. She drained 12 of 15 field goal attempts in that game, going six-of-six from the three-point arc. Her 100-percent three-point field goal effort in that contest is still tied for first in the UT record books, and her six made threes still tie for 11th. Her 37 points stand fifth-best among seniors all-time at Tennessee.
After her collegiate career and earning a B.S. in sports management with a minor in business administration from UT in 2004, Butts was chosen in the second round of the WNBA Draft with the 29th overall pick by the Minnesota Lynx. She would play in 2004 and 2005 with the Lynx before spending the 2006 campaign with the Charlotte Sting. Butts also enjoyed stints overseas, playing in Portugal and Israel.
A coaching career followed, with Butts beginning as a graduate assistant on Pat Summitt’s staff at her alma mater in 2004-05. She served as an assistant at Duquesne in 2007-08, at UCLA from 2008-11 and at LSU from 2011-19, and was an assistant and then associate head coach at Georgia Tech from 2019-23 before being named head coach at Georgetown on April 11, 2023.