WKU's "Toppers On Tour" to Make Seven Stops in Late April and Mid-June

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — For the third-straight year, Western Kentucky University will bring the Hill on the road this spring and summer to seven area cities and offer fans the opportunity to meet, mingle and have pictures taken with WKU head coaches and athletic department personnel.

"Toppers On Tour" will stop in Owensboro on April 17, Lexington on April 21, Glasgow on April 24, Nashville on April 25, Russellville on April 26, Louisville on June 11 and Elizabethtown on June 18. Locations and times can be found below. Scheduled to appear at "Toppers On Tour" are WKU Interim Director of Athletics Todd Stewart, head football coach Willie Taggart, head men's basketball coach Ray Harper and head women's basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard, as well as cheerleaders, Topperettes and Big Red, and more coaches and staff members could appear as well.

Members of the WKU Ticket Office will also be on-hand to answer questions and take orders for football season tickets and deposits for basketball season tickets.

Taggart is entering his third season as head football coach at WKU in 2012. After guiding the Hilltoppers to two wins in his first season, Taggart saw his squad start 0-4 in 2011. However, WKU was able to orchestrate a remarkable turnaround, winning seven of its last eight games. The only loss in that stretch came to number-one LSU in Baton Rouge. The Hilltoppers finished 7-1 in Sun Belt Conference games to finish second in the league race. The only loss in the league was a four-point setback to eventual league champion Arkansas State.

The five-win difference in Sun Belt Conference play represents the biggest one-season turnaround in league history. Only two teams in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision - Houston and Arkansas State - experienced bigger turnarounds in terms of overall wins from 2010 to 2011.

Harper pilots a WKU men’s basketball team fresh off a memorable run through the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament and a win in the NCAA Tournament. After taking the helm of the team midway through the 2011-12 season Harper began to put his stamp on the program, and the team responded in a big way. The Hilltoppers went 11-8 after he took over and 7-1 after he was named full-time head coach, which came after starting the season with a 5-11 record. In winning seven of its last eight games, WKU won a game against conference rival Arkansas State on a buzzer beater, defeated conference champion Middle Tennessee two days later in front of a sell-out crowd at E.A. Diddle Arena and then stormed through the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs, Ark., capturing four wins in four days to earn its eighth tournament title and head to the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd time.

In all, WKU finished the season with a 16-19 record, and freshman guard Derrick Gordon was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Third Team. His 412 points scored were the third-most by a freshman in WKU history, and fellow rookies George Fant (321) and T.J. Price (270) cemented their places on the list in seventh and ninth, respectively, thanks in part to Harper’s coaching efforts.

Former Lady Topper student-athlete Clark-Heard, who spent two years as the head coach at Kentucky State and has helped lead Louisville into national prominence the last five years as an assistant coach, was named the new head coach of Lady Topper Basketball on March 22. Clark-Heard was part of four NCAA Tournament teams during her playing career at WKU and has been on the bench as an assistant coach with seven other NCAA Tournament teams.

Clark-Heard just completed her fifth season as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville. In those five seasons, the Cardinals made three Sweet 16 appearances and made their first Final Four appearance, finishing as the National Runner-Up in 2009. Clark-Heard was instrumental in bringing in the number-12 recruiting class in 2008, then followed with three consecutive top-10 classes in 2009, 2010 and 2011. During her time at Louisville, the Cardinals produced eight all-Big East performers, six of which earned first-team honors. Clark-Heard came to Louisville after spending two seasons as the head coach at Kentucky State.

“Toppers On Tour” Stops
Owensboro area -- April 17 at 6:00 PM:
Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn
2840 West Parrish Avenue
Owensboro, KY

Lexington area -- April 21 at 11:00 AM (ET):
Coincides with the Central Kentucky Alumni Chapter’s Day at the Races. Look for the WKU tent in the "Preferred $5" tailgating area adjacent to the “Reserved” area by Gate 2.
4201 Versailles Road
Lexington, KY

Glasgow area -- April 24 at 5:30 PM (CT):
Colton’s Steakhouse & Grill
206 North L. Roger Wells Blvd.
Glasgow, KY

Nashville area -- April 25 at 6:00 PM (CT):
Jed's Sports Bar & Grille -- on the Upper Deck
114 28th Avenue North
Nashville, TN

Russellville area -- April 26 at 12:00 PM (CT) -- lunch available:
Historic Downtown Russellville Square
164 East 4th Street
Russellville, KY

Louisville area -- June 11 at 6:00 PM (ET):
Heritage Hill Golf Club
1050 Valley View Drive
Shepherdsville, KY

Elizabethtown area -- June 18 at 5:30 PM (ET):
Elizabethtown Country Club
2606 Hodgenville Road
Elizabethtown, KY

To register online or for information, visit www.alumni.wku.edu/toppersontour or contact the WKU Alumni Association at (270) 745-4395 or via email at alumni@wku.edu.