Jesse Harper
Jesse Harper.jpg
Biographical details
Born(1883-12-10)December 10, 1883
Paw Paw, Illinois
DiedJuly 31, 1961(1961-07-31) (aged 77)
Sitka, Kansas
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1913–1917Notre Dame
1913–1918Notre Dame
1914–1918Notre Dame
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1913–1917Notre Dame
1931–1933Notre Dame
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 career


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 Dame

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 life

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.

In 1963, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum for his contributions to the cattle industry.[6]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Alma Maroon and Cream (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


  1. ^ DeLassus, David. "Alma Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on November 21, 2010. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
  2. ^ Wabash College coaching records Archived November 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Notre Dame Men's Basketball Media Guide". Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved November 9, 2007.
  4. ^ Cavanaugh, Jack (2010). The Gipper: George Gipp, Knute Rockne, and the Dramatic Rise of Notre Dame Football. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 9781628731125.
  5. ^ Plumlee, Rick (September 26, 1999). "Kansas Ties To Notre Dame Go Beyond Rockne Crash Scene". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  6. ^ "Hall of Great Westerners". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved November 22, 2019.