The hiring brings an end to Abrahamson-Henderson’s six-season tenure with UCF, the final season of which she was the AAC’s Coach of the Year and brought the program its first NCAA Tournament victory earlier this month. She also goes down as the winningest coach in program history with a final overall coaching record of 131-48 (.739).
“What we did at UCF was the most historic season in school history!” Abrahamson-Henderson said in Georgia’s press release. “Winning the regular season and conference tournament titles, earning a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament — the highest in program history — and winning in the first round of the NCAA to reach the round of 32. It is not easy to leave a place like UCF, and I want all our administrators, players, alumni, fans and supporters to know you will always hold a special place in our hearts.”
The announcement comes one day after Radi Nabulsi of UGASports.com reported Abrahamson-Henderson had visited Athens, being met at the airport by Georgia Athletic Director Josh Brooks.
BREAKING: UCF's Katie Abrahamson-Henderson has just arrived in Athens. Was met at the airport by UGA athletic Director Josh Brooks.— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) March 25, 2022
UCF beat Florida in the NCAA tourney before falling to powerhouse UConn.
Would be a big hire by Josh Brooks.
Bio: https://t.co/Dxj6TXEtwv pic.twitter.com/mdA2eS3tEI
While terms of the contract were not disclosed in the release, it was reported that UCF offered Abrahamson-Henderson a new contract extension that would increase her base salary into the “top 15 nationally.” Per Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel, this would put the proposed new base salary at $850,000 or more.
Per @UCFSports, the Knights offered a new extension that would bump her base salary to "top 15 nationally" (think $850K or more).— Jason Beede (@therealBeede) March 25, 2022
Regardless, #UCF put in the effort prior to this historic season to keep Coach Abe in Orlando.
The move also marks Abrahamson-Henderson’s return to Athens after she played for the legendary Andy Landers back in the mid-80s. As a freshman, she was a part of the 1986 Lady Bulldogs that took home the SEC title.
While Coach Abe departs Orlando, she leaves behind a group of players that became the top scoring defense in the country last season and, barring the shortened COVID-19 season, knew nothing but 20-win seasons.
Forward Masseny Kaba, who just completed her final season in the program, was Abrahamson-Henderson’s first recruit as UCF’s head coach. She finished this season as a member of the All-AAC 3rd team:
I’m SOOOO happy for you Coach Abe ❤️ You literally DESERVE it all! You’ve poured so much into me and helped me become the person I am today and I can’t thank you enough! Nowww go do what you do best! Love you https://t.co/Fbvs53MPfD— Masseny Kaba (@masseny_) March 26, 2022
Guard Diamond Battles earned the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year and Most Outstanding Player Awards and was unanimously selected to All-AAC First team. Abrahamson-Henderson said earlier this month that she would be returning to the Knights for her final year of eligibility next season:
Oh how much I love this lady ❤️ You gave UCF amazing years Thank you for being a role model and great coach I love you pumpkin https://t.co/VISPjDMM2p— D I M O N D (@battles_diamond) March 26, 2022
Just as Abrahamson-Henderson took the Knights from having five-straight losing seasons to two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, those at Georgia are looking for her to perform similar program improvement for a program that has not advanced past the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament since 2013.
“Our goal was to find a proven coach who has had sustained success both in competing for conference titles and in the NCAA tournament,” Brooks said in the release. “Katie is the entire package, and I can’t wait to see what her teams are able to accomplish here at the University of Georgia.”
A search for Coach Abe’s successor will begin in earnest for UCF Athletic Director Terry Mohajir.
“As I told our team today, players win championships and right now my sole focus is on the young ladies in this locker room,” Mohajir said in a UCF press release. “In this day and age one thing that is inevitable in college athletics is change. How you respond to change is what can create strong character.”
“We have already started a national search for our next head coach and the main focal point will be to find someone who wants to be 100% committed and believes in the vision for the UCF Knights.”