Jesse Harper
File:Jesse Harper.jpg
Sport(s)Football, basketball, baseball
Biographical details
Born(1883-12-10)December 10, 1883
Paw Paw, Illinois
DiedJuly 31, 1961(1961-07-31) (aged 77)
Sitka, Kansas
Head coaching record
Overall57–17–7 (football)
67–29 (basketball)
88–53–1 (baseball)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1971 (profile)

Jesse Clair Harper (December 10, 1883 – July 31, 1961) was an American football and baseball player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at Alma College (1906–1907), Wabash College (1909–1912), and the University of Notre Dame (1913–1917), compiling a career college football record of 57–17–7. Harper was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1971.

Coaching careerEdit


Harper was the head football coach at Alma College in Alma, Michigan. He held that position for the 1906 and 1907 seasons. His coaching record at Alma was 8–3–4.[1]


Harper was the 18th head football coach at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and he held that position for four seasons, from 1909 until 1912. His coaching record at Wabash was 15–9–2.[2]

Notre DameEdit

Harper is most known for his coaching at the University of Notre Dame.[3] His 1913 football squad posted a 35–13 win over Army, one that is regarded by most football historians as the game that put Notre Dame on the football map.

Later lifeEdit

Harper stepped down as head football coach after the 1917 season and returned to ranching in his home state of Kansas. His ranch was not far from where Knute Rockne was killed in a 1931 plane crash.[4] Harper accompanied Rockne's body on the train from Kansas back to South Bend, Indiana, for the funeral and burial. The University of Notre Dame immediately hired Harper to fill Rockne's role as athletic director,[5] a position in which he remained until 1934, when Elmer Layden became head football coach and athletic director.

Harper was married and had two sons and one daughter.

Head coaching recordEdit


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Alma Scots (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association) (1906–1907)
1906 Alma 3–2–3
1907 Alma 5–1–1
Alma: 8–3–4
Wabash Little Giants (Independent) (1909–1912)
1909 Wabash 3–4–1
1910 Wabash 4–0
1911 Wabash 3–3–1
1912 Wabash 5–2
Wabash: 15–9–2
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Independent) (1913–1917)
1913 Notre Dame 7–0
1914 Notre Dame 6–2
1915 Notre Dame 7–1
1916 Notre Dame 8–1
1917 Notre Dame 6–1–1
Notre Dame: 34–5–1
Total: 57–17–7
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


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