velaida harris supplied by rhode island

In this photo supplied by Weber State University, Velaida Harris — Weber State's new women's basketball coach — coaches in a game.

OGDEN — Weber State University made history with its hire of the school’s sixth women’s basketball head coach.

Velaida Harris, a former University of Utah assistant coach, will lead the Wildcats as the first black woman to be the head coach of any Division-I sport at any college in the state, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m so grateful and thankful for the opportunity to lead the Weber State women’s basketball program,” Harris said in a statement from the school. “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.”

Harris comes to Ogden most recently from the University of Rhode Island, where she was an assistant coach for the 2017-18 season.

Harris spent six years at Utah from 2009-15, first as director of operations and later as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

“We are thrilled to welcome Velaida as our new women’s basketball head coach,” athletic director Jerry Bovee said in a statement. “This is a historic hire and she will bring a high level of experience to Weber State. She has many connections in coaching and recruiting in the state of Utah and other areas of the country. 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 replaces Bethann Ord, who left to be head women’s basketball coach at Binghamton University. Ord coached for seven seasons at WSU and coached to a record of 77-137 (.360) with a top Big Sky Conference finish of fourth place.

Harris, a native of Portland, Oregon, is a graduate of Portland State University, where she played basketball from 1989-93.

She was an assistant coach at Oregon from 2007-09. She was also the head coach for nine seasons at two high schools in Oregon (from 1997-2006), compiling an overall record of 163-67 with three trips to state championship games.

Weber State’s 44th season of women’s basketball begins this November.

Contact Brett Hein at, follow him on Twitter @bhein3 and at

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!