EDITORIAL: Harper hire was the best move for men’s basketball program

Feb. 28, 2012 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: On Sunday, Feb. 19, interim coach Ray Harper was hired as the head coach of the WKU men’s basketball team. This capped off his six-week stint as interim head coach, when Diddle Arena saw its six largest home attendances of the season and its first sellout of the season.

OUR STANCE: Considering the rollercoaster ride this season has been and the current circumstances, Ray Harper was the best hire WKU could have made, and the decision is a good one. 


When Ken McDonald was fired as head coach of WKU’s men basketball team on Jan. 6, Ray Harper was introduced as the interim coach. The results of that decision proved to be a complete turnaround for the program. Attendance doubled, fans brought Ray Harper head cutouts and the team played with an energy that was clearly not there before.

The season ultimately concluded with the men’s team winning its last home game in front of a sold-out Diddle Arena crowd — the first sellout since last year’s game against the University of Louisville. 

Now with Harper as the official head coach, fans finally have something to stand up and cheer about. 

When he was hired, Harper said in his introductory speech that he wants to be here for the long-term and wants to build WKU back up to its national stature. 

Given his credentials, fans have all the reason to believe that’s possible. 

During his time at Kentucky Wesleyan College, Harper won two national championships at the Division II level and made KWC one of the most dominating basketball schools in the country during his time there. He then moved to Oklahoma City University where, in three years, he won two NAIA national championships with one national runner-up finish. 

In total, he’s advanced to nine national championship games in his 12 seasons as a collegiate head coach. 

These credentials are not easy to attain for any coach, and Harper accomplished them in a relatively short time. Harper simply has a track record of winning. 

Furthermore, the players are at ease now that they can end the season with an official head coach. One can argue that the players are playing for Harper now.

Athletics Director Ross Bjork said WKU conducted a national search for the head coaching position. It was a spot many people were after, but in reality, it would be hard to find a better coach or fit for the program than Harper given the circumstances. 

Most of all, there is now a level of excitement around WKU’s men’s basketball program that hasn’t been matched in years.

The players are excited, and fans have come out in droves to support their team. Anyone who was in Diddle Arena at the start of the season and there for the last home game can tell the stark difference. 

In a speech in front of fans after the final home game on Saturday, Harper proclaimed, “We’ve only just begun.” Though he was talking about heading into the Sun Belt Tournament, one can only be optimistic that those words will hold true for the future of the program.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.