Hall of Fame Coach J.T. Higgins Named USC Men's Golf Head Coach
LOS ANGELES — J.T. Higgins, a Hall of Fame golf coach who guided the Texas A&M men's team to an NCAA championship and 17 NCAA appearances during his 19 years there, was named the head coach of the USC men's golf program, Trojan athletic director Mike Bohn announced today (Aug. 14).
"We are ecstatic to welcome J.T. Higgins to USC," said Bohn. "As a national champion and Hall of Famer, his established and consistent standard of high-level achievements rank him among the top collegiate men's golf coaches in the country. During the search process, it became clear that J.T. shares our vision to lead a student-athlete centered program. His decision to be our new head coach is a powerful representation of the strength of the Trojan Family and yet another sign that our athletics program is a sleeping giant reawakening."
— Mike Bohn (@USC_mikebohn) August 14, 2020
Said Higgins, who spent part of his youth in Venice, Calif.: "This is such an incredible, exciting day for me. I have always known I would end up back in Southern California, it may have taken 40 years but I finally made it home! I am so grateful to Mike Bohn for this opportunity. He has put everything in place for us to be successful and compete for championships. The roster is filled with talent, the athletic department is pure excellence and when you combine that with a world-renowned university in the most vibrant city in the country, you have a recipe for success. I am so excited for the opportunities that lie ahead for this golf program and can't wait to get started."
In his 23-year head coaching career at Texas A&M (2002-20) and New Mexico (1998-2001), he has been named Conference Coach of the Year three times and Region/District Coach of the Year four times. He was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2015.
With Higgins at the helm, Texas A&M captured the 2009 NCAA crown (the program's first ever in golf, as well as A&M's first in any sport since 1987 and first in a men's sport since 1939). His teams earned a school-record 12 consecutive NCAA Regional berths from 2003 to 2014. Texas A&M's appearance in the NCAA Championship in 2004 was its first since 1998.
Under Higgins, the Aggies posted 12 Top 5 finishes in NCAA Regional play, including Regional championships in 2018 and 2019, and had 10 Top 15 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including tied for fifth in 2018 and 2019. A&M finished in the Top 20 national ranking 12 times under Higgins and twice was in the nation's Top 5 in scoring rating. His teams posted the 15 lowest season scoring averages in school history.
His Aggies placed in the Top 3 of their conference tourney nine times (the first three were as members of the Big 12), including winning the Big 12 in 2012 (A&M's first league title since 1987) when he was the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Texas A&M golfers earned 24 All-America honors under his watch, as well as more than three dozen Academic All-Conference honors. He produced nine professional tour players.
Higgins, 54, was the 2020 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year as he led Texas A&M to a pair of tournament victories and a final No. 6 national ranking during the coronavirus-shortened season.
In 2018, A&M won a school-record six tournaments and for a portion of the season was ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll.
He was the Region Coach of the Year in 2005-08-10.
Higgins came to Texas A&M from New Mexico, where he led the Lobos to the NCAA Regionals in each of his four seasons and to two NCAA Championship appearances. His teams never finished below fourth at the conference tourney and in 1998 won the NCAA West Regional. He was the 2001 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year and District VII Coach of the Year.
Three New Mexico players earned All-America honors under Higgins' guidance and two were the Conference Freshman of the Year. Four of his players were named Academic All-America and 12 earned Academic All-Conference honors. UNM's Wil Collins received the 2001 Ben Hogan Award as the top student-athlete in college golf.
In 1999, Higgins coached the United States in the World Junior Golf Team Championships in Japan, leading the Americans to a runner-up finish.
Prior to New Mexico, Higgins served as an assistant coach at Nevada-Las Vegas under legendary coach Dwaine Knight for six years (1992-97). The Rebels appeared in the NCAA Championships each year, posting four Top 10 finishes and a runner-up showing in 1996. Then, with many of the players Higgins had recruited, UNLV won the NCAA Championship in 1998 in Higgins' first year at New Mexico.
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 that raised more than $3.1 million to help the men's golf program come close to endowing itself. In addition to academic and fund-raising duties, he was in charge of accounting and team travel.
Before joining the Rebels coaching staff, Higgins served as a UNLV sports information assistant in 1990-91. He was the publicist for the top-ranked UNLV men's basketball team that advanced undefeated to the 1991 NCAA Final Four under legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian.
Before UNLV, Higgins was the media relations director for the Las Vegas Stars, the AAA farm team of the San Diego Padres. He produced the organization's first-ever media guide and handled media coordination for the AAA All-Star game.
He began his career in sports publicity at his alma mater, Eastern Oregon State College. A standout basketball and baseball player there, he also was the school's sports information director during his junior and senior years.
Higgins graduated from EOSC in 1989 with a bachelor's degree in business administration and a specialization in economics.
A native of Meridian, Id., he has three children: Ashley, Ben, and Casey Lynn.