DATE: Sept. 10, 2012
FOR USE: Immediate
CONTACT: Steve Quakenbush, 620-276-9627
New Athletic Director Arriving To Take Charge At GCCC
Dennis P. Harp coming to Broncbusters from University of Texas at Arlington
Dennis P. Harp, who has served the past two years as athletics development director for the University of Texas at Arlington, has been selected as the new director of athletics for Garden City Community College.
Harp, who will relocate to Garden City from Grandview, Texas, is a 30-year veteran of athletic administration, fund-raising and basketball coaching. He has also served at Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and South Plains College, Levelland, Texas.
At UT Arlington, he has established and maintained contacts with a network of donors for a variety of programs over the past two years, including an $800,000 baseball and softball revitalization effort. He has also worked in obtaining major gifts for special projects, in cooperation with the vice president for development, the athletic director and other key university officials.
In addition, the university completed a $78 million special events center with Harp’s involvement.
“Garden City Community College has been seeking a dynamic individual with outstanding leadership experience, not only to direct our overall athletic programs, but also in exercising vision and expertise for the development of expanded support and philanthropic resources for the benefit of Broncbuster athletics,” said Dr. Herbert J. Swender, GCCC president. “I believe we have found that individual.”
The president placed a GCCC lapel pin on harp’s jacket after introducing him at a mid-morning news conference today, and said the selection culminated a nationwide search that began in mid-June and drew more than 50 applicants from multiple states.
“We actually had about 70 inquiries on this job, but there just weren’t any other candidates with this kind of breadth and experience,” Swender told a crowd of nearly 50 people from the campus and community who gathered in the Dennis Perryman Athletic Complex to welcome Harp.
“Dr. Swender’s enthusiasm and vision for the college are some of the main things that attracted me,” Harp said, “along with the wonderful people I met at the college and in the Garden City community.”
“I believe in the mission of the community college,” he added. “Going to a community college was the best thing I ever did.”
Before joining UT Arlington, Harp served from 2001 to 2011 as director of corporate relations for Hardin Simmons, where he was closely involved in a major capital campaign that raised $48 million. He also identified and cultivated donors in the Abilene region and out of state, maintained contributor relationships, and developed and carried out a plan for a series of endowments.
Harp moved up to the corporate relations position at HSU after serving there from 1988 to 2001 as head coach for men’s basketball. In addition to compiling a 190-142 win-loss record, he led his teams to three 20-win seasons. He became one of the youngest coaches in the National Collegiate Athletic Association when he took the job at the age of 31, and he instituted a series of Athletics Against Drugs basketball camps, as well as bringing in a number of National Basketball Association and Women’s NBA players as guest speakers.
As assistant coach at HSU from 1985 to 1988, he served as recruiting coordinator, scouted and evaluated opponents and developed a recruitment philosophy based on securing student athletes to fit the institution’s standards.
Harp worked as assistant men’s basketball coach and academic counselor at South Plains in Levelland from 1980 to 1985, where he handled floor coaching responsibilities, coordinated recruitment, counseled student athletes and assisted graduating players with career placement. During his tenure, SPC teams consistently earned top 20 national rankings.
At GCCC, he will lead athletic-related fund raising endeavors, as well as directing all men’s and women’s athletic programs and overseeing the coaching staff.
He said he is already somewhat familiar with the area, after recruiting student athletes during his years as a coach. He has also worked in the past with Dennis Perryman, GCCC athletic director for whom the campus athletic building is named.
“I have always been impressed with the support for the college and the enthusiasm for the athletic programs,” Harp said, noting that he is looking forward to working in a community that is served by a single institution of higher education.
Harp earned a master’s degree in education at HSU in 1988, with an emphasis in counseling and human development, and a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education and recreation at Mount Marty College, Yankton, SD, in 1979. He is also a graduate of Dawson Community College, Glendive, Mont., where he earned an associate degree in 1977, after playing on the basketball team coached by Perryman.
The new athletic director is a native of La Grange, Ind., near South Bend, and graduated from Lakeland High School there after playing basketball and baseball. During his interview visit, he took time to attend the dedication ceremony for the new Garden City High School facility.
He has a son, Ryan, who played NCAA Division I basketball at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and now lives in the Los Angeles area. He also has a daughter, Ellie, an all-state volleyball player attending Brookhaven Community College in Dallas.
“I’m a rural Indiana guy, and I loved meeting the people in Garden City,” Harp said. “They’re some of the friendliest I’ve ever been around, and Garden City just felt like the place I needed to be.”