Karen Barefoot has accepted the women’s basketball head coach position at UNC Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY MICHAEL WADE-ODU ATHLETICS)
WILMINGTON – Karen Barefoot, a nationally-known women’s basketball coach who has built successful programs at four different institutions, has been named the 11th head coach in UNCW history.
Barefoot, 45, takes over the UNCW program after six successful seasons at Old Dominion University (ODU). Barefoot guided the Lady Monarchs to a 103-93 record, including five winning seasons and three postseason appearances, according to a press release from UNCW.
The move to UNCW is something of a homecoming for Barefoot, who said she has roots in the Wilmington area. Both her father and uncle were born in the Port City, and she still has family in the area.
“I am really excited about becoming the next head women’s basketball coach at UNCW and I look forward to being a part of the Seahawk family,” Barefoot said. “There is so much potential for this program to reach success and I am excited to be a part of it.
“I want to be a part of building something successful at UNCW and that really excites me to have that opportunity,” she added. “I think the Wilmington community is craving a championship and for the program to be successful, and I want to lead them to that success.”
— UNCW Basketball (@uncwmenshoops) May 3, 2017
Barefoot led ODU to a 17-14 record last season, including an 11-7 mark in Conference USA play. The Lady Monarchs advanced to the Conference USA quarterfinals before bowing to league runner-up Southern Miss.
In addition, Barefoot’s teams posted a pair of milestone victories during the season, winning her 100th game as the Lady Monarchs’ coach against Charlotte on Feb. 19, and her 300th victory as a head coach against VCU on Dec. 9, 2016.
UNCW Athletic Director Jimmy Bass said the college is “very excited” about welcoming Bass to the Seahawk family.
“She will bring a tremendous amount of passion and energy to the program,” Bass said. “Karen is well-connected in women’s basketball circles and has a proven track record of success on many levels. We’re confident she will build a program here that we can all be proud of.”
The Lady Monarchs finished the 2015-16 campaign with a 17-17 mark, including a 10-8 showing in league play. They advanced to the Conference USA Championship Game as the No. 5 seed after defeating No. 13 seed North Texas, No. 4 seed Charlotte and No. 1 seed UTEP in the tournament.
Barefoot also led ODU to the 1,000th win in program history on Dec. 15, 2015, with a victory at Howard. With that win, the Lady Monarchs became the fourth program in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the milestone.
Barefoot guided Old Dominion to its best season during her tenure in 2014-15 when the Lady Monarchs finished with a 21-13 record and reached the second round of the postseason WNIT after defeating Virginia. The Lady Monarchs paced Conference USA in field goal percentage defense (.377) and defensive rebounds per game (29.0) while ranking second in the league in rebounding margin (+3.1).
In 2013-14, the Lady Monarchs put together an 18-16 campaign that featured a trip to the second round of the postseason WNIT. In the program’s first season in Conference USA, ODU earned a first round bye in the league tournament. Barefoot recorded her 250th career win as a head coach in an overtime victory against Marshall on Feb. 1, 2014.
The Lady Monarchs tallied 19 wins in 2012-13, marking an eight-win improvement over the previous season, and earned a spot in the WNIT. Old Dominion finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association standings and defeated eventual WNIT champion Drexel at home.
Prior to taking over at Old Dominion, Barefoot was the head coach for three seasons at CAA rival Elon, piloting the Phoenix to 37 victories, including the program’s first 20-win season in 2010-11, along with an appearance in the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
Barefoot spent three years as an assistant coach at Old Dominion from 2005-08, helping the Lady Monarchs compile a 77-23 record with three CAA tournament championships. ODU won at least 22 games in each season, including a 31-5 mark in 2007-08 with an appearance in the Sweet 16.
In four seasons as the head coach at Lenoir-Rhyne, the Newport News, Va., native guided the program to a 70-44 record, including the school’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament during the 2002-03 campaign after winning the program’s first South Atlantic Conference Tournament championship.
Barefoot began her coaching career as the head coach at The Apprentice School in Newport News from 1995-2001, earning NSCAA Coach-of-the-Year honors twice. In six seasons with the Builders, Barefoot compiled a 103-41 record with three national postseason tournament appearances, including the 2001 National Small College Athletic Association Tournament title.
A 1995 graduate of Christopher Newport, Barefoot led the Captains to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a run to the Sweet 16 during her freshman season. During her career, she posted a 73-34 overall record and was a three-time Kodak/WBCA All-America selection while claiming All-USA South Atlantic Conference Player-of-the-Year honors twice.
Barefoot, a four-time All-Conference selection, also holds the distinction of being the first player (male or female) in NCAA basketball history to collect 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists. She was inducted into the Christopher Newport University Hall of Fame in 1999 and still ranks as the program’s all-time leader in assists and steals while ranking second on the program’s all-time scoring list.
“We wish Karen well in her new endeavors at UNCW,” ODU Athletic Director Wood Selig said. “We are grateful for all the wonderful accomplishments our Lady Monarchs achieved under Karen’s leadership. Our academic profile has increased dramatically while our community visibility and engagement has been exemplary. There has not been a more strident ambassador for ODU and ODU athletics than Karen Barefoot. We will miss her energy and enthusiasm and know she will do well at UNCW.”
Barefoot, likewise, praised ODU, describing her time there as “an incredible experience.”
“I want to thank President Broderick and Wood Selig for an incredible experience at Old Dominion,” she said. “I think we have accomplished some great things, both on and off the court, and I credit the student-athletes, the fan support, the administration and everyone who has been a part of Lady Monarch basketball. I’m truly going to miss Monarch Nation and Old Dominion will always have a special place in my heart.”
ODU Athletics and WYDaily contributed to this report.