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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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AD David Harris rings in new era in Tulane Athletics

New Tulane Athletic Director David Harris looks to continue the recent success. (Andrew Balestrery)

It’s a new era for Tulane University athletics. 

After Troy Dannen left the Green Wave for the University of Washington, Tulane University wasted no time hiring a replacement to build off of recent success and push the athletic program forward. 

This man is David Harris, a Baton Rouge native who has returned to Louisiana after spending much of his career in Iowa, including the past seven years as the Athletic Director for University of Northern Iowa. His success at Northern Iowa and his roots in the South made him an attractive candidate for the Green Wave.

We had the privilege of sitting down with Harris to discuss his past experiences, early impressions in New Orleans and his goals for the Tulane Athletics program moving forward.

Harris and Tulane were made for each other. On one hand, the Green Wave wanted an experienced, stabilizing force determined to grow their brand as college athletics enters a whole new world surrounding name, image and likeness and constant player movement. 

For Harris, the job at Tulane was a chance to challenge himself while being surrounded by family. 

“In your career, as you move forward, you look for new opportunities and new challenges and Tulane’s certainly presented that as a school that had a great reputation,” Harris said. “And that I suppose, if you look at it from a FBS standpoint, was a level higher than where I’ve been at an FCS school. And so I felt like I was ready for enough to the challenge.” 

When stepping into his office in Uptown, Harris wasted no time making big changes that will forever alter Tulane Athletics. The football team has brought Tulane to the forefront nationally, and the recent head coach vacancy needed to be filled in a timely and intentional manner. 

To Harris, Jon Sumrall immediately stood out as a candidate that checked all of the boxes and then some. 

When looking for a coach, “you’re looking for someone that can recruit. You’re looking for someone that you believe cares deeply about the student athletes that he or she will be coaching. You look for someone that’s a good bid for your institution, that’s always important. And certainly, you look for someone that can surround himself or herself with a great staff [of] capable people,” Harris said.

We also asked him about how he plans to make changes to the aspects of the program Dannen paved in his time here, and what he wants to keep the same. Harris mentioned that he is still in “information gathering mode,” and noted the timeliness of the question —  he is preparing to ask the staff their opinions on the current operations. 

“I’m still in the process of evaluating all aspects of Tulane Athletics,” he said. “I’m meeting with everyone on the staff, one-on-one, and the questions that I asked each of them to come in prepared to answer is, ‘Tell me something we should stop doing, tell me something we should start doing and tell me something that we should continue to do,’” Harris said. 

Despite still being in “information gathering mode,” Harris is leading the charge in upcoming Tulane Athletics plans that will improve the program. That process begins with the construction and renovation of athletic facilities, including a new indoor practice facility for football and a Sports Performance Center that all athletic teams will benefit from. 

“We’re still in the planning process of what we’ll call a Sports Performance Center that’ll be located here within our facilities that will do a number of things, including providing additional needed space for football … additional weight rooms, training rooms, equipment area, as well as a connection with the football stadium to be able to give us some new premium seating opportunities,” Harris said.

With both the planning of new facilities and the growing momentum of all athletic programs from football to sailing, there is certainly a growing excitement surrounding all things Tulane Athletics, which starts from the athletic director himself.

“I’m excited about all of it,” he said. “One of the reasons that I was attracted to this opportunity is because you look at sailing winning a national championship, you look at the success of women’s golf, the success of baseball, the success of football, women’s basketball going on to win it last year and all the success across the board. And when you come into a position as an athletics director, that’s the kind of thing that you’d like to see that there’s a department-wide movement and department-wide momentum moving in a positive direction.”

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