Florida Southern Director of Athletics Pete Meyer has announced the hiring of Betsy Harris as the school's new head women's basketball coach. Harris, who officially begins her position on July 1, becomes just the seventh coach in the 37-year history of the program.
Harris comes to Florida Southern after spending the past three seasons (2011-14) as the head coach at the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, Ga., and brings 15 years of collegiate coaching experience, plus four years of overseas professional playing experience to her position with the Moccasins.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to be a part of Florida Southern College and its athletic department. I appreciate the opportunity that President (Dr. Anne) Kerr and Pete Meyer have given me to lead the women's basketball program," Harris said. "We play in a great conference and I look forward to the challenge of getting our program mentioned with the top teams in our league.
"We've already begun working on what should be an exciting 2014-15 season."
Harris replaces former coach Holly Borchers, who stepped down from the position in early May after spending the past two seasons as the Moccasins head coach and six seasons as the team's assistant coach.
In three seasons at Coastal Georgia, Harris, who was a four-year starter at guard at the University of Alabama from 1990-94, led the Mariners to three consecutive winning seasons, including recording back-to-back 20-plus win campaigns in 2012-13 and 2013-14. She completed her three years at Coastal Georgia with a 68-27 coaching record.
"Betsy has been successful as a player, assistant coach and head coach. We are excited to have her lead our women’s basketball program to new heights," Meyer said. "Betsy will be a great addition to Florida Southern College and the Lakeland community."
In her first season at Coastal Georgia in 2011-12, Harris led the Mariners' program to a 19-10 record in their inaugural campaign. In 2012-13, she led Coastal Georgia to a 24-9 overall record and a berth in the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship Tournament. It was the first Coastal Georgia athletic team to qualify for an NAIA National Tournament. Along with compiling a 24-9 record, she also led the team to a 15-5 mark in their first season competing in the Southern States Athletic Conference and a spot in the SSAC Tournament semifinals.
This past season, Harris led the Mariners' program to a school record 25 wins as the team finished the 2013-14 season with a 25-8 record. The team was also the runner-up in the SSAC Tournament for the second consecutive year and won a school record 15 straight games and was ranked as high as 15th in the NAIA national polls.
Along with winning 68 games in three seasons at Coastal Georgia, Harris also coached the school's first-ever SSAC Player of the Week, the school's first-ever NAIA All-American in women's basketball, the first-ever All-SSAC performer and the first-ever SSAC All-Tournament honoree.
Prior to arriving at Coastal Georgia to revive a women's basketball program that hadn't been in existence since the mid-1980s, Harris spent the bulk of her coaching career as an assistant coach at the University of West Alabama in Livingston, Ala., where she served two different stints with the Division II program that is a member of the Gulf South Conference.
She began her collegiate coaching career at West Alabama as a graduate assistant coach during the 1999-00 season, before being promoted to assistant coach for the 2000-01 campaign. Following her first stint at UWA, Harris spent the 2001-02 season as an assistant coach at Troy University and then served as an assistant coach during the 2002-03 season at East Mississippi Community College in Decatur, Miss.
After two years away from West Alabama, Harris returned to the Lady Tigers as an assistant coach in 2003-04, before serving as the program's associate head coach/recruiting coordinator for the next six seasons. She spent seven seasons (2003-10) in Livingston with the Lady Tigers until a coaching change at the school led Harris to move on to an assistant coaching position at Meridian (Miss.) Community College during the 2010-11 season before being hired at Coastal Georgia.
In her time at UWA, Harris was instrumental in the development of several outstanding guards, including Jessica Thompson, who became the school's all-time leader in three-point field goals. In addition, several UWA players scored 1,000 or more points in their careers under Harris' guidance and finished their careers near the top of the school's career scoring charts.
As a collegiate player, Harris was a four-year starter at guard for Rick Moody from 1990-94 at the University of Alabama. In her time with the Crimson Tide, she led Alabama to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a trip the NCAA Division I Final Four in 1994. She earned Second-Team All-SEC honors as a senior in 1994 and was also named the MVP of the Midwest Regional and earned a spot on the 1994 Final Four All-Tournament Team.
Harris holds the Alabama school record for most career three-point field goals made (232) and is tied for the school record for 3-pointers made in a game as she hit 8 in a game against Auburn in 1994. Additionally, she ranks seventh on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,519 career points and is tied for the SEC Tournament record for most 3-pointers made in a game (7) and holds records for most 3-pointers made in a tournament (13) and most 3-pointers attempted in a tournament (31).
While at Alabama, Harris was nominated for the Wade Trophy, which is given annually to the Division I National Player of the Year and participated in the USA National Team Trials in 1993.
Harris played professionally overseas for four years after her graduating from college as she made stops in Spain (University of Oviedo), Iceland (Club Breidablik), Sweden (Club Ockelbo), Greece (Club Apollon) and Switzerland (Club ABB Baden). She was also invited to training camp with the WNBA's Detroit Shock in 1998.
Before enrolling at Alabama, Harris was a standout high school student-athlete Decatur High School in Decatur, Miss. She earned All-State, All-South State and All-District honors in basketball and led the school to their first-ever Mississippi Class 2A state championship in 1990. She also lettered in tennis and track while at DHS.
Harris graduated from Alabama with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management in 1995 and earned her master’s degree in teaching from West Alabama in 2001.
She is the daughter of Pat and Linda Harris of Decatur, Miss. She has a twin sister, Patsy, an older sister, Becky and a brother, Jeff.