Director of Athletics Don Harnum
In September of 2005 Don Harnum was asked by Rider University President Mordechai Rozanski to step away from his position as the head basketball coach, even though he had just led the Broncs to two regular season conference titles in the last four years, to become the interim director of athletics. Fortunately for the entire Rider community, he accepted.
One year later, after a national search, Harnum was officially named Rider’s new director of athletics.
“It was difficult to leave the sidelines,” Harnum said at that time, “but after being a part of the bigger picture I felt like I could make a positive contribution to Rider, the athletics program, and most importantly, to the lives of our more than 350 student-athletes.”
In the last nine years, the Rider department of athletics has achieved unparalleled growth in facility enhancements supported by fund raising efforts, in student-athlete leadership initiatives, and in success, on the playing field and in the classroom.
One of his first charges was to restructure the athletic administrative staff to improve role definition, productivity, staff versatility and development.
He has strengthened the competitive culture amongst the Rider coaching staff by improving facilities, enhancing resources and by hiring several new head coaches who have gone on to earn Coach of the Year honors on the conference level.
Since Harnum took over Rider has won 13 conference championships and eight regular season conference titles while producing five All-Americans and three Academic All-Americans.
In the classroom Rider student-athletes are now compiling the highest grade point averages in the history of Rider varsity athletics, in large part due to the recruiting efforts and support of the coaching staff as well as the strengthened academic support policies and procedures implemented by Harnum. Rider student-athletes now regularly perform exceptionally well in the classroom.
Harnum has provided leadership and fundraising support for numerous capital campaigns that have led to the creation of new and renovated athletic facilities for all 20 varsity teams, including Alumni Gymnasium, the Sonny Pittaro baseball field, the Herb and Joan Young softball field, the Ben Cohen soccer and field hockey complex and the track & field complex, as well as the tennis courts and the Rich Coppola swimming pool. Alumni engagement, corporate sponsorship and athletic fundraising have reached an unprecedented level under Harnum.
Harnum has not only raised the level of competition at Rider both on the playing field and in the classroom but has also helped promote and market it, by initiating and managing the creation of a new athletics logo package and subsequent branding campaign that has led to the first athletic licensing agreement at Rider.
Rider’s reputation in the community and across the country is growing. In the last eight years Rider has served as host of NCAA Championships, including NCAA Women’s Basketball in 2006 and 2009, NCAA Division I Wrestling in 2011 and NCAA Women’s Rowing in 2012, as well as numerous conference championships (baseball, track & field, wrestling, field hockey).
Harnum’s concern for Rider student-athletes goes even beyond the playing field and the classroom. In the last several years Rider has created student-athlete leadership programs, including the Captain’s Leadership Seminar, the Captain’s Leadership Principles, the Bronc Pledge, Code Cranberry and numerous community service activities.
In addition to his athletic director duties, Harnum has served as Chair of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Committee on Athletic Administration during the 2012-13 year, when the conference was going through realignment. He currently serves on several university wide committees and has served on numerous hiring/search committees outside of athletics.
Harnum’s competitive spirit was formed as a coach. The 2002 MAAC Coach of the Year, Harnum led the Rider men’s basketball team to its first-ever NIT bid in his very first season as the Bronc head coach. He recruited and coached six of the top 10 scorers in program history, including Jason Thompson, the 12th player picked in the 2008 NBA draft. Under his tutelage Rider has had a 100 percent graduation rate among basketball seniors.
The son of a coach and athletic director, Harnum is a native of Selingsgrove, Pa. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Susquehanna University, where he was an All-American basketball player as well as an Academic All-American. He received his master’s degree from Trenton State College, where he was a graduate assistant coach on the team that advanced to the National Championship game.
Harnum and his wife Janet, have two children, Abigayle and Lucas.