Ray Harper

WKU Athletics

Former Western Kentucky University men's basketball coach Ray Harper has been hired in the same position at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. He'll be formally introduced at a news conference in Jacksonville Thursday morning.

Harper resigned from WKU last month following the suspension of three players for undisclosed reasons. It was announced this week those players are no longer enrolled at WKU. School President Gary Ransdell has said those suspensions were the "primary reason" behind Harper's resignation March 17th.

WKU hired former Mississippi State head coach and Texas A & M assistant Rick Stansbury as head coach March 28th.

Harper coached for five seasons at WKU after becoming interim coach in the 2011-12 school year. He compiled an 89-64 record. He led the Hilltoppers to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons but failed to reach any post-season tournaments in his last three years.

Harper's taking over a program at Jacksonville State that went 8-23 last season, including a 4-12 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Clinton Lewis

Rick Stansbury is returning to Kentucky to coach basketball.  The Meade County native was introduced Monday afternoon as the next men’s basketball coach at Western Kentucky University. 

During a news conference, Stansbury said he did not have to be sold on WKU.

"There's so much tradition.  I understood that.  I know what this place about," remarked Stansbury.  "I know not where it's at, but where we're going to go with it.  It's not about me.  It's about all of us, and that first game we show up to this year, we want that arena packed, and we're going to put a team on that floor that you will be proud of."

Stansbury comes from Texas A&M where he served as an assistant coach.   Before that, he spent 14 seasons as Mississippi State’s head coach.  Under a four-year contract, Stansbury will be paid a base salary of $500,000 annually. 

He takes over for Ray Harper who resigned this month following the suspension of three players.  Stansbury said the three would not be returning to the team. 

Stansbury said he has a lot of respect for Harper and hopes he will continue to be a part of the basketball program at WKU.

Megan Stearman/WKU Athletics

WKU women’s basketball team is eyeing a return trip to the NCAA tournament.  Last spring, the team made its first appearance in “The Big Dance” since 2008. 

Head coach Michelle Clark-Heard took questions Tuesday during basketball media day. She says the team will be tested early with a season-opening WNIT appearance and then a trip to Louisville.

“I can’t look into the crystal ball and tell you what our record will be or how many wins we’ll get,” said Clark-Heard.  “But, I can tell you one thing and I can promise you. We’re going to play as hard and we’re going to compete and we’re going to have a chance to be in the ballgame the last five minutes.  When we do that, I think we’ll have the opportunity to get the girls in the position to have a chance to win.”

In March, the WKU women lost to Baylor 87-74 in the first round of the NCAA tournament

Both WKU basketball teams were beset by key injuries last season.

Men’s basketball coach Ray Harper also met with the media Tuesday.  His team opens the season November 15th against Austin Peay.

The WKU Board of Regents has approved a $37 million bond issue to fund a new international center and Honors College building, as well as the next phase of the ongoing renovation of the Downing University Center.

While the motion passed, three regents voted against the proposal.

Faculty Regent Patty Minter joined Student Regent Keyana Boka and Staff Regent James Kennedy in dissent. Dr. Minter says while she fully supports the WKU Honors College and the school's efforts to grow its international student population, she questions the need to issue bonds and build a brand new facility.

“There were a lot of better ideas that were not explored," said the WKU History Professor. "For example, having a floor in the replacement building for the Gordon Ford College of Business—what a great place that would be. And it would also integrate that group and the international student services into the entire student population, as opposed to segregating them out.”

WKU Men's Basketball Team Adds Butler Transfer

Jan 22, 2013

WKU head men's basketball coach Ray Harper announced Tuesday the addition of Chris Harrison-Docks to the program after the guard elected to transfer from Butler University before the start of the 2012-13 regular season.

Harrison-Docks is enrolled in school and practicing with the Hilltoppers, and he will have three-and-a-half years of eligibility at WKU beginning after the conclusion of the first semester of the 2013-14 season.

"Chris is a great addition to our basketball program," Harper said. "He has a very high basketball IQ, and he is as competitive of a player as you could find. He can shoot with range, and his dedication to improving his skills is evident in how he enrolled in school early so he could begin practicing with our current team right away. We could not be more pleased to be able to bring a player of Chris' caliber to WKU."

Up until now, college coaches from all sports have been forbidden from sending messages to recruits via text, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. They’ve also been limited to how many phone calls they make to recruits.