Joe Harper was the head football coach at Cal Poly from 1968 to 1981 and Athletic Director from 1968-73.
Harper is the winningest coach in Cal Poly football history with 96 wins in 14 seasons. His winning percentage of .687 (992-28-3) remains the best in school history. Harper's coaching highlights during his career include an undefeated regular season in 1972, the year the Mustangs earned a trip to the Camellia Bowl.
The most memorable moment came in 1980, when the Mustangs went 10-3 and captured the NCAA Division II National Championship under Harper's leadership. He was named the 1980 NCAA Division II Coach of the Year and also the District IX Coach of the Year for the fifth time in his 14-year career. Among several other accolades, Harper was named the Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association in 1972, 73, 75, 78, and 80.
Harper subsequently served as head football coach at Northern Arizona from 1982-84, and at Cal Lutheran University from 1990-96. He owned and operated a pair of restaurants in San Luis Obispo recently and was Cal Poly's offensive quality control coach in 2011. He has three children and eight grandchildren.