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Florida A&M names Harris as basketball coach


Former Florida State basketball star Eugene Harris was introduced Thursday as the head basketball coach at Florida A&M, although details on his contract with the school remain to be finalized.

However, university President James Ammons said it would be a four-year deal and that the 52-year-old Harris “would be well taken care of.”

Harris succeeds Mike Gillespie, who is now serving a year’s probation after a no contest plea to stalking a former girlfriend. Gillespie coached six seasons for the Rattlers and took the school to the NCAA postseason tournament on two occasions.

“My goal and my job is to take it to the next level,” Harris said. “To win games in the NCAA tournament and go on to the Sweet 16.”

Although he has spent most of his coaching career as an assistant in collegiate circles, Harris also coached high school basketball in Tallahassee and Alabama.

Harris played for coach Hugh Durham at Florida State where his 956 career points rank in the top 50 all-time. He was a three-year starter and co-captain of the Seminoles’ team that won the Metro Conference in 1978.

Harris’ familiarity with the Southeast will be reflected in future Rattler basketball schedules as well as his recruiting efforts.

He also wants to cut back on long road trips for nonconference games and the number of games against major college powerhouses.

And although Harris cautioned it will take two solid recruiting classes after this year, optimism prevailed Thursday at the announcement where some 75 staff, coaches, students and alumni piled into a small, warm room to see the new coach.

“Once a Seminole now a Rattler,” athletic director Nelson Townsend said as he introduced Harris. “These are no ordinary times and we didn’t go looking for any ordinary coach.”


–Associated Press

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