Harris announced as basketball head coach

Men’s Basketball at Florida A&M University has gone through several ups and downs. One of the “ups” includes the naming as 2007 Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference champions. The down was losing a coach to matters that did not involve basketball.

The news was announced at a 1 p.m. press conference Thursday at the Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse, in front of media and faculty.

Eugene Harris has a new home and it is right here on the hill. He will now serve as the new head coach for the men’s basketball program. Harris arrived in Tallahassee Monday and even though he is a native of Scottsboro, Ala., he is no stranger to Tallahassee, having coached at Rickards High School (1982-84) and being a member of the basketball team at Florida State University.

As an FSU student, Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education, with a double minor in political science and coaching. As an FSU basketball player he was a three-year starting guard. He served as co-captain of the FSU team that won the Metro Conference in 1978. He was also the team’s most valuable defensive player award winner for three seasons.

When looking at all the colleges that Harris has gained his coaching experience, it seems he has an extensive resume as an assistant coach on the collegiate level. He has made stops at schools in the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference and the Sun Belt Conference.

Before becoming a member of the Rattler family he also made coaching basketball his top priority at Clemson University (1984-1994), Auburn University (1994-2001), the University of Alabama (1983-1984), and South Alabama (2005-2006). He also served as Assistant Athletic Director at Auburn from 2001 to 2005. Most recently, prior to accepting the opportunity to coach at FAMU, he left Atlanta as assistant men’s basketball coach at Georgia State University. President James H. Ammons says this extensive resume is just one of the reasons he was selected.

“We got a great one in Coach Harris. We got over 60 applicants for the job, invited five to the campus to be interviewed, but he stood out among the five. He has convinced us that he is the right coach at this time for our university.”

Harris has 23 years of coaching under his belt, which Athletic Director Townsend said will be a “strong addition [to] the men’s basketball program.”

Will any changes be made with the program? Harris said that he must first evaluate the talent, but besides stressing the game of basketball, he wants to also stress the game of life.

“I plan on teaching players life skills; I’m a life coach, go out and be productive citizens and really be involved with the student body.”

Harris is 12 days behind in the recruiting process but he is ready to pick up the slack. Harris is looking for scholars and athletes. In the last 20 years of coaching over 90 percent of his players have graduated.

“He has a strong recruiting background and has a knack for identifying highly talented academic and athletic young men,” says Ammons.

Ammons said that the contract will run for four years. The salary range was not disclosed.