Saint Vincent College has announced that D.P. Harris, a Saint Vincent Athletic Hall of Fame inductee and two-time Presidents’ Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, will return as head coach of the Bearcat men’s basketball team, while also assuming the position of senior associate athletic director.
Harris, who served as head coach of the Bearcat men from 2003-19, most recently coached at Saint Thomas University in Miami, Florida, for the 2019-20 and ’20-21 seasons. He had served as the senior director of athletic advancement at Saint Vincent since June 2021.
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” said Harris. “This is a common phrase that we have heard countless times over the years in Latrobe, and these words have never been truer than they are right now as I return to Saint Vincent. I want to express my appreciation to our College president, Father Paul Taylor, O.S.B., and executive vice president and chief operating officer, Dr. Jeff Mallory, in helping to bring me back to Saint Vincent where it all started. I have a true love and appreciation for our beautiful college and the Catholic, Benedictine values it upholds.”
“We are pleased to welcome Coach Harris back to lead the men’s basketball program,” said Father Paul. “It’s always great to welcome an alum back home, and with his proven track record of success and multitude of accomplishments during his previous time at Saint Vincent, we look forward to seeing what the program can achieve, both on and off the floor, in the time ahead. We are confident that the program is in good hands under his leadership.”
Harris owns an overall career coaching record of 354-142 (.714 winning percentage). During his original 16-year tenure at Saint Vincent, his teams went a combined 318-126, including 119-29 (.804 win pct.) in Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) play. He then posted a 36-17 mark in his two-year stint at Saint Thomas.
While at Saint Vincent, Harris’s teams made two NAIA National Tournament appearances and four trips to the NCAA Division-III National Tournament, while winning four PAC tournament championships.
“In his first tenure as head coach here at Saint Vincent,” said Fr. Myron Kirsch, O.S.B., Saint Vincent College athletic director, “Coach Harris’s teams were always competitive and won a number of championships. We are confident that with his leadership, our men’s basketball team will be very competitive in the near future.”
He originally joined the Saint Vincent coaching staff as an assistant coach in 1995-96, and was elevated to associate head coach in 2001-02 before taking the reigns as head coach for the 2003-04 season. During his time as an assistant/associate, the Bearcats were perennially ranked in the NAIA top 25, making four trips to the NAIA National Tournament, including Elite Eight appearances in 1998 and 2002 and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 2003.
Harris’s first two seasons as head coach proved to be two of the most successful in program history. In 2003-04, the Bearcats won the American Mideast Conference (AMC) tournament and advanced to the NAIA Sweet Sixteen, finishing 25-7. A season later, SVC went a perfect 14-0 in AMC play and again reached the Sweet Sixteen en route to a 25-5 overall mark. These two squads included three players who would earn All-America honors, including Tony Washam, a three-time NAIA All-America selection and the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in program history, four-year starting point guard Kenny Roberts and three-time all-conference selection and the program’s all-time leading shot-blocker, Jeff Mallory.
Harris and the Bearcats continued to achieve success upon the College’s 2007 move to NCAA Division III and the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. The 2007-08 Bearcats went 22-4 overall, including a perfect 13-0 at home, and won the ECAC championship. The 2008-09 squad turned in a 22-3 overall record and would again go undefeated in 13 home contests.
Harris then guided the Bearcats to four consecutive PAC championships and berths in the NCAA Division-III Championship Tournament between 2012-13 and 2015-16. Over that span, SVC went a combined 87-27 and saw two of its players named PAC Player of the Year, including Dillon Stith in 2014 and Jaylon Bell in 2016. The 2013-14 season saw Harris named PAC Coach of the Year and Stith named All-America by D3hoops.com, while Harris would be inducted into the Saint Vincent College Athletic Hall of Fame in September 2014.
The Bearcats finished atop the PAC regular season standings and advanced to the conference championship game in both 2016-17 and 2018-19. The 2017-18 season saw the Bearcats earn the NABC Team Academic Excellence Award, while in 2018-19, Harris earned his second PAC Coach of the Year honor and center Tom Kromka was voted PAC Player of the Year. The 2018-19 Bearcats finished 14-2 in the PAC during the regular season, moving Harris’s career PAC record to 119-29.
Upon assuming the reigns at Saint Thomas for the 2019-20 season, Harris guided the Bobcats to a 22-6 record and the finals of the Sun Conference Championship Tournament. It marked an 11-win improvement for Saint Thomas from the 2018-19 campaign, while the 22 wins were the most for a first-year coach in the program’s history. The Bobcats would again reach the Sun Conference championship game in 2019-20 and be awarded the NAIA Champion of Character Award for the second consecutive season.
“As I embark on my second journey at Saint Vincent,” said Harris, “I hope I can make an even greater difference than I did before. I plan to work very closely with our coaches, alumni and the many beloved members of the Bearcat community. I am greatly looking forward to working with our current players to help them both in the classroom and on the court. Academics, basketball and character will always be the focus of the program.”
A native of Wheeling, West Virginia, Harris holds a bachelor of arts in communication from Saint Vincent College and a master of science in sports administration from Saint Thomas. Along with his extensive success on the sidelines while at Saint Vincent, he was also heavily involved within the Latrobe community, and was awarded the 2008 Paul Harris Fellowship Award by the Latrobe Rotary.