The sixth head men's basketball coach in SU history, Robert Harris, has just completed his 11th season as the top man in the Hornets basketball program. Harris was named to the top position in October 2000 by former athletic director Dave Dutton after serving as the lead assistant coach and recruiting coordinator from July 1992 to October 2000.
After engineering a six-game overall improvement from 2001-02 to 2002-03, Harris earned 2003 Dixie Conference Coach of the Year honors. He was the first SU basketball coach, male or female, to earn this honor.
In 2003-04, Shenandoah finished a Harris-era best-ever 16-10 overall and won a school-record 10 of 14 league games on the way to an appearance in the USA South Tournament final. The trip to the finals was the first for the program since 1996 and just the second overall in school history. The squad backed up that performance with a 15-12 campaign in 2004-05, a season that included an Apple Tip-Off Tournament championship, a win over Division II Shepherd, an overtime loss to Division I Liberty and a fifth-straight trip to the USA South Conference Tournament semi-finals.
|Year||Overall||USA South||Finish||USA-S Tourn|
In 2007-08, Harris' club shocked many hoops observers by posting a 3-0 record against NCAA Division I and II schools. SU opened the year with a 94-91 exhibition win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, moved on to beat DI newcomer Houston Baptist 78-75 just after Thanksgiving and finished up by downing DII Shippensburg 76-68 the first week of December.
In 2008-09, Harris directed a young ballclub that suffered through numerous injuries into a tie for fourth place in the always tough USA South Conference. The team won its final two regular season games of the season to secure a home game in the tournament quarterfinals, and defeated N.C. Wesleyan in that contest to earn a spot in the tournament semi-finals for the first time in four years.
Harris has also taken on leadership roles among his fellow basketball coaches. The 2006-07 season marked his third year on the NCAA South Region ranking committee. In this capacity, Harris represented the USA South Conference to the NCAA and had a hand in selecting the national tournament championship field.
During his tenure on the SU staff, Harris has brought in notable players such as Onyie Onunaku, Jeremiah Lawrence, Chris Rhone, Kenneth Purnell, Ronald Merriwether, Ted Davis, Billy Blake, Cameron Jones, Tyson Thompson, Al White and Phil Dixon. All these players earned All-Conference honors, White and Dixon were All-Americans, and Dixon capped off his outstanding career by being named the DIIINews 1996 National Player of the Year. In 2007-08, Onunaku and Lawrence became the sixth and seventh players in the past five years to be named a Street & Smith's Magazine pre-season All-American.
In addition to his coaching duties, Harris serves the Athletic Department as an administrator as well. In July 1999, Harris was promoted to assistant athletic director for promotions and marketing after serving as its coordinator for three years. In this role, Harris works with senior Athletic Department staff to develop additional athletic financial support.
Harris was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and is the son of Laura and the late Robert Harris, Sr. A 1987 graduate of St. John's Prep School, Harris played two years of varsity basketball under the legendary Joe Gallagher while also achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel. In this role he led four squads totaling 28 cadets.
Harris earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from SU. In 1991, he earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics and then received his master's in business administration in December 1995. During his playing career, which encompassed Don Carter's last season and Dave Dutton's first three years, Harris was part of the most successful era in SU basketball history. In his final three seasons, all under Dutton, the team won three regular season ESAC Championships, two ESAC Tournament Championships, and made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Harris was a starter on the 1990-91 NCAA Tournament team that finished 21-6 and was also ESAC regular season Champions. He was also the President's Cup Winner in 1991, an award given to the Outstanding Male and Female Athlete of the Year.
In his free time, Harris serves the community in many ways. He has been involved in "Choices," a program geared to the development of high school students in the Winchester/Frederick County community, and graduated from Winchester/Frederick County Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Program. Additionally, Harris was the keynote speaker at the 1998 Shenandoah University Staff Development Day and is a member of the BB&T Shenandoah Valley and Winchester/Frederick County Youth Development Center advisory boards.
Harris is the father of Carson Trent Harris, 7.