Looking back at major events during Ray Harper’s tenure at WKU

Senior guard Kahlil McDonald celebrates with his teammates after winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament against North Texas on March 6 in Hot Springs, Ark. WKU defeated North Texas 74-70 to earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament — its first since 2009.

Wednesday marked the end of Ray Harper’s tenure as the head coach of the WKU men’s basketball team. Harper’s resignation announcement came alongside the suspensions of three key players – junior guard Fredrick Edmond and freshman guards Marlon Hunter and Chris McNeal – after a University Disciplinary Committee hearing. 

Over the course of Harper’s time at WKU the Hilltoppers have seen both highs and lows. Take a look back at the Herald’s coverage of Ray Harper and his time at the helm of the WKU men’s basketball program with our timeline below.

January 5, 2012Head Coach Ken McDonald released as basketball coach, Ray Harper made interim head coach.

  • McDonald exits the program with a 67-49 overall record. Harper, an assistant since 2008, was given the interim job.

January 21, 2012WKU defeats University of Arkansas-Little Rock 65-53 to give Harper his first win as head coach.

February 19, 2012Harper officially hired as WKU’s head coach

March 6, 2012WKU wins its fourth game in four days, defeating North Texas 74-70 to win the Sun Belt Conference Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament.

  • The Hilltoppers entered the tournament with a No. 7 seed and an 11-18 record. The four-in-four run was punctuated by multiple comeback victories. 

March 13, 2012WKU defeats Mississippi Valley State 59-58 in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

  • WKU ended the game on a 22-5 run to earn its 18th NCAA tournament victory in program history.

March 20, 2012Athletic director Ross Bjork leaves for same position at Ole Miss

April 5, 2012Guard Derrick Gordon transfers from program. 

  • “It is important to me that my family be able to see me play more frequently and for me to be able to visit everyone, including my brother, more regularly, and I believe it is best for me to continue my playing career closer to home,” Gordon said in a statement. Gordon was the first freshman to lead WKU in scoring since the 1972-73 season.

April 12, 2012Guard Vinny Zollo transfers from the program.

May 10, 2012Todd Stewart is announced as WKU’s new athletic director.

January 22, 2013Harper announces that Butler guard Chris Harrison-Docks will transfer to WKU. 

  • The transfer of Harrison-Docks was seen as a needed move by the Hilltoppers, as senior guard Jamal Crook was in his last year of eligibility.

February 5, 2013Program announces that Texas Tech guard Trency Jackson will be transferring to WKU.

  • Jackson would go on to play in 56 games for WKU after transferring from Texas Tech. He averaged 10.3 points per game and shot 37.7 percent from three-point range as a Hilltopper.

February 25, 2015Senior forward Teeng Akol is removed from the program due to academic issues.

March 11, 2013WKU wins four games in four days for the second consecutive year to win the Sun Belt Championship over Florida International University, earning an NCAA tournament birth. 

March 22, 2013WKU’s season ends with a 64-57 loss to the University of Kansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

March 30, 2013WKU announces move to Conference USA.

  • The move ended WKU’s 31-year tenure in the Sun Belt Conference.

April 15, 2013Forward Stephon Drane transfers away from the program. 

May 5, 2013 Forwards Kene Anyigbo and Eddie Alacantra announce they will transfer from WKU. 

March 15, 2014WKU loses in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinals to Louisiana-Lafayette by a final score 73-72.

  • The loss marked WKU’s first time missing the NCAA tournament since 2011.

December 12, 2014 – Guard Ayinde Sprewell requests release from WKU.

December 29, 2014Harper notches 400th career victory as WKU defeated Alice Lloyd 104-64. 

March 2, 2015 Four-year starters George Fant and T.J. Price play in last WKU home game, a 77-61 victory over FIU. 

March 12, 2015WKU is knocked out of the second round of the Conference USA Tournament at the hands of University of Alabama, Birmingham by a score 53-52.

March 23-25, 2015Harrison-Docks is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia; guard D.J. Clayton requests release from WKU.

May 4, 2015Guard Brandon Price is cited for possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to wear a seatbelt.

May 6, 2015Price announces he is transferring from the program.

May 28, 2015Forward Rob Marberry announces he is transferring to Lipscomb University.

June 5, 2015Guards DJ Clayton and Avery Patterson announce they are transferring from the program. 

  • Multiple transfers leave forward Justin Johnson as only remaining player from 2014-15 freshman class.

October 10, 2015 Hilltoppers begin 2015-16 season practice with 10 new players on roster.

December 22, 2015Harrison-Docks is suspended indefinitely for not meeting expected team standards.

  • The suspension lasts one week. Harrison-Docks returns in WKU’s game against Marshall on Jan. 3.

January 24, 2016Harrison-Docks is announced as no longer being a member of the team.

March 11, 2016Old Dominion defeats WKU in the semifinals of the C-USA Tournament, 89-77.

March 17, 2016Harper announces his resignation as head coach. Junior guard Fredrick Edmond and freshman guards Chris McNeal and Marlon Hunter are suspended from the team after a University Disciplinary Hearing on Wednesday.