Harper Steps Down at CLU After 6 Years

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Joe Harper resigned as Cal Lutheran football coach Friday, leaving behind a written statement that said he was frustrated by not winning a conference championship in his six years of guiding the Kingsmen.

Harper did not return phone calls, but sources in the football program say he was forced out.

"There really hasn't been any growth in the program," one source said. "I hate to say it, but players are going to be glad."

In the press release Harper said: "After six years of hard work, a lot of good experiences and some significant strides in program development, it appears that this is the appropriate time for me to bow out of coaching at Cal Lutheran."

Harper, 59, will remain at the school as an administrator until the end of the academic year and Athletic Director Bruce Bryde said Harper might stay even longer.

Bryde would not confirm or deny that Harper was forced to resign.

"I think he may have achieved what he could here, football-wise," Bryde said.

Several Cal Lutheran players said Friday afternoon they were unaware of Harper's decision to step down.

"Wow! I didn't even know about it," sophomore offensive guard Jarrod DeGonia said. "There were rumors going around, but I had no idea.

"I really can't say what effect it's going to have on the team. I guess time will tell."

Harper had a 23-32-1 record at Cal Lutheran. The Kingsmen finished 4-4-1 last season and placed third in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Before taking over at Cal Lutheran, Harper spent five years in the real estate business. He was head coach at Northern Arizona from 1982-84 and led that team to a 12-20 mark.

In 1980, Harper won an NCAA Division II championship at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where in 14 years as head coach his record was 96-43-3. At San Luis Obispo, he was named District 9 coach of the year five times by the American Football Coaches Assn.

At Cal Lutheran, Harper also served as interim athletic director for a year until Bryde was hired.

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