Harvard took a first step towards a big-time basketball program yesterday by naming a former National Basketball Association All-Star as head coach.
The Board of Overseers yesterday approved the appointment of Robert Harrison, 40, coach at Kenyon College in Ohio for the last ten years, as new basketball coach. Succeeding Floyd S. Wilson--now full-time director of intramural athletics--Harrison received a three-year contract.
At a press conference yesterday, Harrison expressed optimism about Harvard's basketball future, but said he will need the help of the "administration, the student body and especially the alumni."
'Get Where Football Is'
"I want to build our basketball program up," Harrison said. "I want to get to where football is. I want our basketball team to be respected throughout the country, and I think it can be."
Harrison said he realized that he faced a challenging task--Harvard has not had a winning season in the Ivy League since 1937. But, he added, "I think I can establish basketball here in three years. If I didn't I wouldn't have taken the job."
At Kenyon, Harrison faced an even sterner challenge and brought if off. An editor of the Kenyon student newspaper said last night that when Harrison arrived there, "he had no material and only 50 or 100 people attended the games."
Last year, the Kenyon student continued, Harrison's team was 25-3 and often packed as many as 2000 fans into the 1800-seat gymnasium. Harrison advocates a fast-break offense: his most recent team scored more than 100 points 11 times, averaging 98.6 points per game. Kenyon ranked 19th among the nation's small colleges last year.
Kenyon has the same restrictions on recruiting that Harvard has--the coach may not visit a player away from the college campus. In both places, therefore, the burden for getting top players falls on the alumni, Harrison said, adding that he hopes to develop a country-wide alumni organization and at the same time use his own coaching contacts to deliver the talent.
A graduate of Michigan, Harrison played for Minneapolis, St. Louis and Syracuse in the NBA, earning recognition as one of the league's finest defensive players. His overall record at Kenyon, 93-115, is not impressive, but his last two teams had a combined mark of 39-11.