DENTON, Texas -- North Texas director of athletics Rick Villarreal announced the hiring of Tracey Kee as the fourth Mean Green head softball coach in the current era.

"After conducting a nationwide search and doing our due diligence, we are excited to introduce Tracey Kee as our new head women's softball coach," Villarreal said. "To acquire a three-time Conference USA Coach of the Year and NCAA participant, who has had several seasons with more than 50 wins against top-level competition will help us take a step to the next level. Her team's accomplishments on the field, in the classroom and in the community are exemplary of the success we want our student-athletes to achieve."

Kee spent 26 seasons at East Carolina as a player, assistant and head coach. Following a standout playing career and successful six-year run as the assistant coach, she was given the reins to the Pirates prior to the 1997 season and did not look back. She earned coach of the year honors four times including three in C-USA.

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead the North Texas softball program," Kee said. "From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew Rick's vision of Mean Green athletics was something I wanted to be a part of."

In 16 seasons as the East Carolina head coach, she compiled a 684-362 record, and guided the Pirates to four NCAA tournament appearances, including three in her past five years.

"I believe North Texas' softball program is on the cusp of doing great things," Kee said. "With continued commitment and hard work, this program will be one of pride, success and tradition."

Kee also pulled in nine league championships, with back-to-back C-USA tournament titles in 2010 and '11. From 2009 to '11, no Conference USA program won more games than East Carolina's 125.

"I would like to thank [Villareal] and the entire search committee for opening the doors to their Mean Green family," Kee concluded. "To see everything this department has accomplished in the past decade, from facilities to victories, is quite an inspiration. The passion, dedication and the stability this staff has shown and continues to show, is something I admire."

Kee graduated from ECU in May 1990 with a bachelor's degree in physical education and, in '95, earned her master's degree from ECU in exercise and sport science with a concentration in physical education.