Harper begins ‘relentless pursuit’ as new director

By: Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor

“Assess, plan and execute.”

Harper (center), stands alongside Charles Dougherty (left) and John Plante (right) at the athletic director’s introductory press conference Tuesday morning ainside the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Harper (center), stands alongside Charles Dougherty (left) and John Plante (right) at the athletic director’s introductory press conference Tuesday morning ainside the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Duquesne’s newly minted director of athletics, Dave Harper, stressed these three words at his introductory press conference on Tuesday morning at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

He will be replacing former athletic director Greg Amodio when he assumes his new role in October.

Harper is currently in his last few weeks as the vice president of university advancement with the University of Dayton. His tenure with the Flyers was quite successful, however, when he first learned of the position’s vacancy a few months ago, his curiosity was aroused.

“I first learned of the opportunity when I was on vacation with my family, and my eyebrows raised, and then I did some investigation,” Harper said. “I talked to some folks and then I had a correspondence with John [Plante] (Duquesne’s Director of University Advancement), and as soon as I learned more and I visited more, the word ‘opportunity’ kept popping to mind.”

“I think if you look at my background, I’ve always been part of things that have had a genesis of success because I’ve had a great team around me, and I sense that here.”

At Dayton, Harper’s background is just as successful as he says it is. He is credited with building and implementing comprehensive strategic plans for the school’s athletics programs as well as helping it raise a record-breaking $66 million for various university affairs.

Before he accepted the job at Dayton, Harper served as the assistant athletic director at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 2003 to 2005. He also has an on-field background in the world of sports. At Robert Morris University, where he received his Masters degree in business administration, Harper was the defensive coordinator for the Colonials’ football team.

Stemming from his successful background, Harper has gained a great deal of trust during his tenure at Dayton. However, he knows he must rebuild that trust from the ground up here on the Bluff.

“You earn [trust] every day,” Harper added. “That’s built over a period of time. I’m sure this wonderful institution has a lot of trust already. Now it’s introducing them to some strategies, some plans, some different directions and in that, I think it’s important to have open dialogue with all your external constituencies.”

There are a number of Duquesne officials who have heard of Harper from the past, which helps build a strong foundation for him to start building that reliability factor.

As an assistant football coach with RMU, he worked with the Dukes’ current defensive backs coach Darnel Richardson in the early 1990’s. At Dayton, which competes with the Red & Blue in the Atlantic 10 conference, Harper has had multiple interactions with men’s basketball coach Jim Ferry and women’s basketball coach Dan Burt plus many others who work in the department.

Duquesne President Charles Dougherty said that during the selection process, both Harper’s success and trust factors were crucial to keeping Duquesne’s athletic department on the rise.

“It was clear to me and to those who met with Dave during the decision process that he is an ideal fit for Duquesne,” Dougherty said. “He is a leader and a strategic thinker who understands how to build a successful program and programs.”

While Harper won’t assume responsibilities until next month, he stated that his tenure at Duquesne begins today. He laid out a simple, three-step process to continue athletic success at Duquesne.

“Today begins a relentless pursuit,” Harper said. “While I’m the athletic director, it’s about the collective team and the partnerships we will form to facilitate success. There is a blueprint, and we will begin to assess, plan and execute.”

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