Wayne Harris Jr. retires as head coach of University of Calgary Dinos

Photo courtesy: Piper Sports Photography/Calgary Dinos

Wayne Harris Jr. has retired as head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos football team, the school announced on Thursday.

The 64-year-old has served as Calgary’s head coach since 2015, compiling a 41-21 record over nine seasons. He is a three-time Canada West Coach of the Year, winning the Frank Tindall Trophy as U Sports Coach of the Year in his first season. During his tenure, Calgary captured three Hardy Cup championships and made two Vanier Cup appearances, winning the national championship in 2019.

The Dinos have struggled in the years since that victory and finished 3-5 in 2023, needing to win by 13 points in the regular-season finale against Manitoba to advance to the postseason. The team secured the victory and led by 20, but fumbled the ball on their final running play to allow a touchdown return as time expired. The subsequent two-point convert eliminated them from playoff contention for the third consecutive season.

“We are grateful to Wayne for his dedication over 45 years of association with the Dinos Football program,” Dinos director of athletics Ben Matchett said in a statement. “From a student-athlete, position coach, coordinator to head coach, he has conducted himself with the utmost integrity and respect, and his leadership led to our fifth Vanier Cup in 2019. We thank him for his years of service to the program and wish him and his family all the best.”

The son of Canadian Football Hall of Famer Wayne ‘Thumper’ Harris, Harris attended the University of Calgary from 1977 to 1981 and competed in both football and wrestling. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1981 CFL Draft by his hometown Stampeders, playing parts of four seasons at linebacker with Calgary, B.C. and Toronto.

He returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach in 1989, the first of three stints working for the school. In between, he spent parts of 25 years coaching high school football locally and served as head coach of the CJFL’s Calgary Colts from 1991-93. He has been with the Dinos continuously since 2006, when he won the Gino Fracas Awards as the top volunteer assistant coach in U Sports, earning a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2011.

Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Matt Berry will serve as interim head coach while the university undertakes a national search for a new head coach.