"Certainly this wasn't an easy decision for me and I am walking away from a program which I believe in whole-heartedly," Braden said. "I have given my heart to this team and this University during my time here and wish the UK nothing but the best. I truly believe in the direction Mitch Barnhart is taking this athletics program.
"I appreciate the opportunity I've had to work with such amazingly extraordinary women and know that great things are in front of them."
Braden was hired to replace Fran Flory in 1998 and posted her best finish that season with a 16-14 record. The Cats were 7-9 in Southeastern Conference play that year, and advanced to the second round of the SEC Tournament. The Wildcats finished 16-15 in 1999, but have not had a winning season since.
"You can't find a better person than Jona Braden," Barnhart said. "We thank her for the years of service she provided UK and wish her the very best."
The search for Braden's replacement will begin immediately. Assistant coaches Scott Carter and Christie Landry will assume responsibility of the team as it finishes its season over Thanksgiving weekend at Long Beach, facing the 49ers and American.