Athletics News

Dave Harper
Dave  Harper

Director of Athletics

Alma Mater:
Wright State '92


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Duquesne University Names David Harper as Director of Athletics

Former vice president for advancement at Dayton to lead department


David Harper Press Conference

David Harper Press Conference

With a career that includes experience ranging from college coach to administrator in both an athletics and university setting, Duquesne director of athletics Dave Harper has used his unique skill set to make an immediate impact on the Bluff.

The Bellbrook, Ohio native, who officially assumed his position at DU in October of 2015, has energized the department of athletics, placing an emphasis on performance as well as competitive and academic excellence.

Centered on providing direction as well as support for both coaches and student-athletes, Harper spearheaded the development and implementation of the department’s first comprehensive strategic plan. The plan, which was formulated in his first 10 months on the job, is designed to provide a blueprint for future success of the department.

On the administrative front, Harper demonstrated his commitment to student-athlete success with the addition of an associate athletic director for sports performance. The position, which oversees both strength and conditioning as well as athletic training, was created to better coordinate and support competitive excellence.

In addition, the marketing and branding arm of the department has seen the addition of staff.

Harper also charged his staff with placing added emphasis on Duquesne’s Academic Progress Rate. That emphasis has seen immediate results, as 10 programs (men’s cross country, men’s tennis, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, women’s rowing, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, women’s swimming, women’s tennis and women’s volleyball) posted single-year 2015-16 rates of 1000 - the highest possible on the scale. The 10 perfect scores were the most Duquesne has posted in a single year.

Competitively, the women’s swimming program added diving in the spring of 2017 in a move that will allow to program to compete on level playing field for Atlantic 10 Championships.

In the spring of 2017, Harper secured Keith Dambrot as the 17th head coach in the 101-year history of the men’s basketball program. Dambrot led the University of Akron to 10 postseason appearances in 13 seasons and 21 or more wins in each of his final 12 campaigns - a mark matched by only Duke, Gonzaga and Kansas at the Division I level.

Harper came go Duquesne after serving as the vice president for advancement at fellow Atlantic 10 Conference member the University of Dayton.

As Dayton’s VP for advancement - a position he accepted in November of 2012 - Harper led a staff of 80 in development, alumni outreach, special events, information technology and other support areas. Under Harper’s leadership, the advancement division built a strategic plan in conjunction with the university president and board of trustees that resulted in a 2014-15 fiscal year that saw a record $65 million in financial commitments.

Advancement was also the recipient of the second-largest single gift in university history - $12.5 million in September of 2014 - during Harper’s tenure.

As Dayton’s associate vice president for athletics - a position he held prior to moving to advancement - Harper was responsible for UD’s media rights, athletic development and premium seating. He was also part of the team responsible for the planning an execution of renovation work done to UD Arena. Harper served as the administrator for five sports including men’s basketball, where he played a major role in the hiring of numerous successful coaches.

Harper began his career in athletics as an assistant football coach at nearby Robert Morris University where he was part of the first staff assembled by head coach Joe Walton. Harper was part of two Northeast Conference championship teams (1996 & 1997) during his tenure in Moon Township, Pa.

He left RMU in 1998 to move into administration as associate athletic director at Dayton.

Harper briefly left Dayton for a position as an assistant athletic director at the University of Michigan from 2003-05. While at Ann Arbor, Harper managed areas of external affairs with a focus on corporate affairs and sponsorship. He served as the liaison to media rights partner Host Communications in addition to leading a game day team of 30 in the successful implementation of sponsorships for football, basketball and ice hockey.

Harper is a graduate of Wright State University where he completed his bachelor of arts in political science in 1992. He added a master’s in business administration from Robert Morris in 1995 and earned certificates in leadership and executive development (2008) and Aileron management and strategic planning (2008 & 2012) from Dayton.

A leader among his peers, Harper currently serves on the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Competitiveness Committee and is the chair of Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

Harper and his wife, Melissa, are the parents of four boys: Trey, Jake, Drew and Nate.


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