April 16, 1999
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State University Director of Athletics Dave Hart announced Friday the hiring of Neil Harper, former head women’s swimming coach at Ohio State University, as the new head coach for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.
“We are pleased to have Neil join our staff,” Kim Record, Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Administrator said. “He is familiar with the tradition of our program and shares the same vision as the administration for its future.”
“I’m excited with the potential the Florida State swimming program already has established,” Harper said. “I’m impressed with the development of the athletic facilities and with the university overall in the two years I have been gone.”
Harper becomes Florida State’s third women’s coach and seventh men’s coach after two years as the head coach for the women’s swimming team at Ohio State University. In his two year tenure, the women’s team finished in ninth place in the Big Ten Conference both years and was 15-12 overall. Harper is a member of the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA) and the College Swim Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).
Before taking the helm at Ohio State, Harper served as an assistant coach at Florida State under Don Gibb for three years where he was responsible for recruiting and developing the strength and conditioning programs for both teams. He helped coach 17 swimmers to NCAA All-American status, one national champion and a top 10 finish for the men and top 30 finish for the women in the NCAA.
“I knew the potential at Florida State and I can’t wait to step foot back on campus,” Harper said. “I’m happy to be back in Tallahassee and have the opportunity to complete something I started three years ago with the 1996 recruiting class.”
Upon graduation from Louisiana State, Harper served as an assistant coach for the Tigers from 1988-94, coaching 21 All-Americans and seven SEC titles. During his six years, both the men’s and women’s teams finished in the top 15 in the NCAA. As a student-athlete at LSU, he was a seven time All-American, four-time SEC Champion and was team captain in 1988. He also competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games on the British National Team where he was a member of the 400 meter Medley Relay team that finished 6th at the 1984 games and 4th in the 1988 games.
Harper and his wife Paige, also an NCAA All-American and SEC breaststroke champion, have been married for eight years and have two daughters, Katherine (4) and Kelly (2).