J.T. Higgins has taken Texas A&M to the pinnacle of the collegiate game in his 11 seasons at the helm of the Aggie men's golf program.
A three-time Central Region Coach of the Year honoree, Higgins has guided A&M to back-to-back top-5 final rankings in 2009-11, an unprecedented 10 consecutive NCAA Regionals and five straight trips to the NCAA Championships, highlighted by the program's first national title in 2009.
Under Higgins' leadership, the Aggies are one of just four programs nationally who have been to the NCAA finals in each of the last five seasons, and one of only two schools to have posted top-15 finishes at the championships every year during that time span. In the last six seasons, his players have earned 12 All-America, 16 All-Conference and 28 All-Region citations. Last season, A&M tied a school record by placing five players on the Division I PING All-Central Region Team.
Higgins' teams have posted the seven lowest scoring averages in school history, produced four professional tour players and even succeeded in the classroom with three Academic All-America awards and 19 Academic All-Conference honors.
Just this past season, the 2012 Aggies left a lasting impression on the Big 12 during their final season in the league as A&M captured the Big 12 Championship and Higgins was honored as the conference's Coach of the Year. The Aggies finished second at the NCAA Bowling Green Regional to earn their fifth consecutive bid to the NCAA Championship where they finished 14th at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Junior Cameron Peck earned All-America accolades for the third consecutive season under Higgins' tutelage.
The 2011 A&M squad had strong campaign, placing fifth or better in every regular-season tournament. The Aggies then finished second at the Big 12 Championship, second at the NCAA Regional and ninth at the NCAA Championship. For the second straight year-and just the third time in school history-the team took home three All-America awards (Peck, Russell and Nacho Elvira).
In 2010, the Aggies earned the honor of hosting an NCAA Regional for the first time ever, and responded with a strong second-place finish. Following a 13th-place finish at NCAAs, three players--Jordan Russell, Andrea Pavan and Peck--earned All-America accolades. Higgins earned Central Region Coach of the Year honors from the Golf Coaches Association of America for his efforts.
The magical 2009 season culminated with Higgins led the Aggies to their first men's golf title with a rousing 3-2 victory against Arkansas in the finals. A&M won a school-record four tournaments en route to the school's first national title in any sport since 1987 and its first in a men's sport since 1939.
Higgins has produced six Academic All-Americans, twice as many as the years preceding his arrival. In 2006, Andrew Parr became A&M's first All-American since 1997. Bronson Burgoon earned All-America honors in 2007 and 2009, Elvira made the team in 2008 and Conrad Shindler was selected with Burgoon in 2009.
After struggling in his first season in 2001-02, Higgins' team came on strong at the end of 2002-03, winning the Border Olympics in dramatic comeback fashion, placing fourth at the Big 12 Championships and returning to postseason play with a bid to the NCAA Central Regional. For his efforts, Higgins received strong consideration for Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.
In 2003-04, Higgins led the Aggies to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1998. A&M made the cut and finished 14th, only the second top-15 finish for A&M since the mid-1980s. The Aggies followed with another NCAA appearance in 2005, earning Higgins NCAA Central Region Coach of the Year honors.
In 2005-06, the Aggies won two tournaments and advanced to the NCAA Championships for the third straight year. A&M was one of only 11 schools in the country to make three straight appearances at nationals. The Aggies finished the season ranked No. 6 in the nation by Golfweek.
In 2006-07, A&M was ranked in the top 10 most of the season and posted an impressive nine top-five finishes. The Aggies finished second at the Big 12 Championships and advanced to regionals for the fourth straight year.
A&M placed 12th at the 2008 NCAA Championship, at the time its highest finish since 1984. As a result, Higgins was selected as region coach of the year.
When J. T. Higgins was hired to replace legendary Bob Ellis as men's golf coach in 2001, the selection was met with rave reviews in the college golf world.
The 2001 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, Higgins led New Mexico to four NCAA regionals and two NCAA Championship appearances. In 2001, Higgins also was named District VII Coach of the Year by the Golf Coaches Association of America. His UNM teams never finished below fourth at the conference championships and in 1998 won the NCAA West Regional. In 1998 and 2000, the Lobos advanced to the NCAA Championships.
Three UNM players earned All-America honors under Higgins' guidance and two were named conference Freshman of the Year. Four of Higgins' players were named Academic All-America and 12 earned academic all-conference honors. UNM's Wil Collins received the 2001 Ben Hogan Award, which recognizes the top student-athlete in college golf.
In 1999, Higgins coached the United States in the eighth annual World Junior Golf Team Championships in Japan, leading the Americans to a runner-up finish.
Prior to arriving at UNM in 1997, Higgins served as assistant coach at Nevada-Las Vegas under legendary coach Dwaine Knight from 1991-97. UNLV won the NCAA Championship in 1998, Higgins' first season at New Mexico, with many of the players he recruited. At UNLV, the Knight/Higgins duo achieved unparalleled success together as the Rebels appeared in the NCAA Championships all seven years, posting four top-10 finishes and a runner-up showing in 1996.
While at UNLV, Higgins served as the team's academic advisor and guided 19 of 20 Rebel golfers to graduation. He also was the Executive Director of the Rebel Golf Foundation, a booster club that raised more than $3.1 million for the men's golf program. The total moved the program close to endowing itself. In addition to academic and fund-raising duties, Higgins was in charge of accounting and team travel, and even served as a sports information assistant in 1990 before joining the coaching staff.
While in the SID office, Higgins served as publicist for the top-ranked UNLV men's basketball team, which advanced undefeated to the NCAA Final Four under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian.
Before working for UNLV, Higgins was the media relations director for the Las Vegas Stars, the AAA farm team of the San Diego Padres. With the Stars, Higgins designed the organization's first-ever media guide and helped orchestrate the local and national media coordination for the AAA All-Star game.
Higgins began his career in sports publicity at his alma mater, Eastern Oregon State College in La Grande, Ore. A standout basketball and baseball player for Eastern Oregon, Higgins also was the school's sports information director during his junior and senior years. He graduated from EOSC in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a specialization in economics.
A native of Meridian, Idaho, Higgins has three children: Ashley, Ben, and Casey Lynn. He is married to the former Julie Parsen.