The search is over for the Wildcats. The Weber State University women’s basketball announced on July 17 that Velaida Harris will be the sixth head coach in WSU women’s basketball history.
The position had been vacant since June 15 following the departure of Bethann Ord for Binghamton University.
“We are thrilled to welcome Velaida as our new women’s basketball head coach,” said Weber State athletic director Jerry Bovee in a press release. “This is a historic hire and she will bring a high level of experience to Weber State. She also has a hunger and passion to succeed and to grow our program and she will be a tremendous addition to our athletic department.”
Harris has a lengthy coaching background in women’s basketball, beginning her career in 1997 as head coach at Lincoln Senior High School. Harris has coached in the collegiate ranks since 2007, including served as an assistant for both the University of Utah for six seasons. Most recently, she assisted on the staff at the University of Rhode Island in 2017–18.
“I’m so grateful and thankful for the opportunity to lead the Weber State women’s basketball program,” Harris said in the press release. “I’m excited to build on the momentum and continue to grow this program. I truly feel that Weber State is an exceptional university and that the state of Utah is a hidden gem. I am really looking forward to getting started.”
WSU’s hiring of Harris makes her the first African-American woman to be the head coach of any Division I sport in Utah.
Harris played college basketball at Portland State University from 1989–93, a longtime Big Sky conference rival of the Wildcats. Her new squad will take on the Vikings at least twice in the 2018–19 season.
Harris has experienced success throughout her coaching career. She compiled a record of 123–52 during her tenure at Lincoln Senior High School, and then went 40–15 while leading the women’s basketball team at Lake Oswego High School in Oregon from 2004–06.
Harris was part of a staff at the University of Utah which reached the postseason four times. The Utes’ run included an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011, and a 2013 trip to the championship game of the WNIT, where they fell to Drexel University.