RICHMOND, Va. – VCU Women's Basketball head coach Beth O'Boyle has announced the promotion of Karen Blair to associate head coach and the addition of Gillian Abshire as a graduate assistant.
Blair, who enters her third season at VCU, has 18 years of Division I coaching experience including stints at North Texas, UT Arlington, Colgate and SMU. Blair helped guide VCU to a 23-10 record in her first season at VCU including a WNIT appearance. On the recruiting trail, Blair also helped the Rams sign three McDonald's All-American Nominees in the 2017 class. She spent the previous two seasons serving as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator after being hired in August 2015.
"Our program is very excited to promote Karen Blair to associate head coach. Karen has been a proven leader who has greatly impacted our players both on and off the court. Her passion for VCU and our women's basketball program is remarkable and she truly is an invaluable member of our staff," said O'Boyle.
Prior to VCU, Blair completed a two-year run at North Texas, where she specialized in the development of the Mean Green's perimeter players, in addition to her duties in practice and on the recruiting trail.
She spent two seasons as the top assistant and eventually, interim head coach, at UT Arlington from 2011-2013. Blair coordinated the Mavericks' national recruiting efforts and spearheaded the signing of an ESPN Hoopgurlz.com recruit and a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American. She coached UT Arlington in its final eight games of the 2013 season and directed the team to a win over eventual WAC Champion Idaho.
From 2009-2011, Blair served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Colgate. Previously, Blair spent 10 years as and assistant at SMU, her alma mater. She helped steer the Mustangs to a pair of Conference USA regular season titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and two WNIT bids. SMU reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2000.
Blair was a three-year starting point guard for the Mustangs from 1995-1999 and led SMU to NCAA Tournament berths in 1996, 1998 and 1999. A two-year team captain, Blair was named Second Team All-WAC in 1998. She earned a slew of academic honors at the school and graduated cum laude with a degree in business administration from SMU in 1999.
VCU has also added Abshire to the staff as a graduate assistant. Abshire most recently was playing professionally in Denmark for the Virum GoDream. She also played for Lemvig Basket Club in Demark as well.
Prior to her pro career, she was a four-year starter at Quinnipiac. She started all 134 games she appeared in and served as a team captain for three seasons. She led her team to the MAAC Championship and the first undefeated 23-0 record in MAAC conference history in 2014-2015. She also led team to Quinnipiac University's first-ever NCAA basketball tournament appearance in 2013.
"Gillian was a tremendous player both at Quinnipiac University and as a professional in Denmark. Her leadership skills helped her teams earn back to back MAAC championships and for her to become one of the best point guards in the college game. I am excited for Gillian to share her passion and experiences with our players," said O'Boyle.