LAURINBURG — St. Andrews University athletic director Glenn Batten announced the hiring of David Harper as the head coach of its recently created football team, according to a Wednesday news release from the school.
Harper previously coached for more than 20 years as an assistant and head coach at Ferrum College, an NCAA Division III program in Ferrum, Virginia. He joins a Knights program that announced last month that it would field a football team in time for the 2017-2018 academic year.
“I am pleased that Coach Harper will be joining the St. Andrews Knights as we establish our football program,” Batten said. “His broad experience as a player, coach and teacher made him a great match for our new program. He understands our commitment to the NAIA and character-driven intercollegiate athletics.”
St. Andrews is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the new team is slated to compete in the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference. It’s been more than 50 years since the school last fielded a football team, and it has not yet been determined where St. Andrews will host its games beginning in 2017.
“I would like to thank Glenn Batten and President Paul Baldasare for giving me this opportunity at St. Andrews,” Harper said. “I’m extremely excited about the opportunity of starting a football program from its infancy. I have always wanted to take a program from the very beginning to a championship program.”
Harper, a 1989 Ferrum graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in parks and recreation, was a two-time All-American linebacker in 1987 and 1988. He holds five school records, and he was the first Ferrum athlete to have his jersey retired. In 2000, Harper was inducted into the Ferrum College Alumni Sports Hall of Fame.
He began his coaching career in 1990 when he was brought on at Davidson College, then Harper returned to his alma mater in 1993 to serve as the defensive coordinator. Under his guidance, the Panther defense allowed just 271 yards and 16 points per game.
In 1999, Harper became offensive coordinator and in his first year, Ferrum finished sixth in the nation in rushing offense. His offensive unit finished 12th or higher in the country in nine of his first 10 seasons as offensive coordinator. Ferrum’s 2005 offensive unit broke school records for single-game yards, rushing offense in a season and points in a season.
The Panthers named Harper head coach in 2011 and he led Ferrum to back-to-back 7-3 seasons. However, Harper resigned from the school last November after the team endured its third straight losing season. Ferrum went 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the USA South Conference last year. The Panthers were 1-9 in 2014, and 2-8 in 2013.
Harper compiled a 19-31 mark during his five seasons as head coach at Ferrum.
Now that he’s been given a clean slate, Harper said in the release that is he eager to begin piecing together the foundation of Knights football.
“This region of North and South Carolina is known for producing some great football talent,” Harper said. “I also look forward to working with the community of Scotland County to bring that talent to St. Andrews.”