DES MOINES, Iowa (WDRB) — Western Kentucky University announced the resignation of head basketball coach Ray Harper on Thursday night, in a release that also announced that three players had been suspended from the program after a university disciplinary hearing.

Fredrick Edmond, a junior guard, and freshman guards Marlon Hunter and Chris McNeal apparently were part of a hearing Wednesday.

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said in a statement that he couldn’t release any information on the students because of Federal privacy laws.

Harper was 90-61 in five seasons at WKU. Whether his departure is connected to the disciplinary action against the three players wasn’t made clear by the university, but he had been said to be nearing a contract extension after finishing 18-16 this past season with a young team.

Harper became interim coach at WKU in January of 2012 after the firing of Ken McDonald. He led the team to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship and then to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He did it again in 2012-13, when the Hilltoppers finished 20-15 and again were the surprise conference tournament champs, winning an opening round game in the NCAA.

Harper couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

“I would like to thank Ray Harper for his many contributions to our program over the past eight years,” Stewart said in a statement released by the school. “Today is obviously a very difficult day. President Gary Ransdell and I met with our team a short while ago. We will begin the process of identifying and hiring our next head coach immediately.”

Harper will be paid the remainder of his contract, which expires on June 30 of this year.

In a statement emailed by WKU sports information, Harper said this about his resignation:

"Earlier today, I informed Todd Stewart that I was resigning as WKU head men’s basketball coach. I feel this is in the best interests of the program; a program I care deeply about. It has been a true honor being a part of this historic program, as both a head coach and assistant coach. I want to thank my assistant coaches, our support staff and certainly our players for their efforts, dedication and sacrifices on behalf of me and our program. I also want to thank Gary Ransdell, Todd Stewart and our administrative staff for their support and dedication. WKU Athletics has an outstanding group of people, and there is no better place to work. Finally, I want to thank the Bowling Green community and the Hilltopper Nation for the tremendous support they provided my wife Shannon and I. We were proud to call WKU home, and I wish everyone all the best.”

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