Ike Harris possessed the height, speed and agility that made him an elite pass-catcher in the Big Eight Conference from 1971-73. Harris’ skills laid the foundation for ISU’s return to prominence in football, as the Cyclones qualified for the first two bowl games in school history in 1971 and 1972.
The Edmondson, Ark., native made an immediate impact as a sophomore in 1971. Harris, along with Keith Krepfle and Willie Jones, formed the best pass-catching trio in the Big Eight that season by accumulating 1,527 yards on 94 catches. Harris caught 32 passes for 529 yards and four touchdowns in his first year, as ISU went 8-4 and made its first-ever bowl appearance with a Sun Bowl berth.
The Cyclones returned to the postseason in Harris’ junior season, earning a spot in the Liberty Bowl. Harris was the star of the Liberty Bowl, catching four passes for 46 yards against Georgia Tech. The wide receiver caught a 19-yard pass from George Amundson to put ISU ahead 7-3 early in the first quarter. Late in the game, Harris would again score on a pass from Amundson to cut the Georgia Tech lead to 31-30. The two-point conversion failed as ISU dropped the game 31-30. Harris finished his Cyclone career in 1973, catching 14 passes for 251 yards. He ended his career with 76 receptions and 1,226 yards.
Harris received the ISU Aulmann Memorial Scholarship Award for leadership and academic excellence in 1972 and was named ISU’s Black Student-Athlete of the Year in 1974. Harris graduated from Iowa State in 1974 with a degree in accounting, but he put his corporate business career on hold for a while to test the professional football market. Harris was selected in the fourth round of the 1974 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, but instead took an offer from the upstart World Football League, playing for the Southern California Sun in its inaugural season in 1974.
He switched to the National Football League after one year in the WFL, mounting a fruitful seven-year career with the Cardinals and the New Orleans Saints. Harris recorded his best season in 1976, catching 52 passes for 782 yards. His 52 receptions that year ranked 10th in the NFL. In 1980, Harris tallied 692 yards and six touchdowns for the Saints. He ended his NFL tenure in 1981 with 3,305 receiving yards and 211 receptions.
After his NFL career, Harris used his ISU accounting degree to forge a successful business career. Harris earned his MBA from the University of Minnesota and worked his way up to vice president and corporate controller of SUPERVALU, INC, a Minnesota-based food wholesaler and retailer. He left SUPERVALU in 1997 and moved to Atlanta to join the BellSouth Corporation as its chief financial officer. He assumed the role of corporate vice president of finance until assuming his current position of president, advertising and publishing group.
Harris maintained his loyalty and passion for his alma mater. He currently serves on the ISU Foundation Board of Governors and the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Business. He was honored as ISU’s Outstanding Alumnus in 1987 and was named Cy’s Favorite Alum in 1991, an award bestowed annually to an individual who has demonstrated exemplary service to ISU’s athletic programs.
In 2005, Harris was listed among the "Top 75 Most Powerful African-Americans in Corporate America" in the February issue of Black Enterprise Magazine.