After 19 years at the helm of the Texas A&M men’s golf program, head coach J.T. Higgins is leaving the Aggies for the same position at the University of Southern California.
The athletic department released the news that Higgins would step down as A&M’s coach on Friday.
“The decision to leave Texas A&M was the most difficult of my life,” Higgins told 12thman.com. “While together we have built one of the elite programs in all of college golf, it is the people I will miss the most - friends, players and co-workers. Everyone contributed to the success of this team and I am forever grateful. I have been given the opportunity to return to my hometown of Los Angeles and coach at The University of Southern California. It is the only school in the country that could draw me away from the school I love, Texas A&M. I am a proud Aggie Dad, with all three of my children now former students, and after 19 years in College Station, I will always consider myself an Aggie.”
The former USC men’s golf head coach Chris Zambri stepped down from his position in July after 14 years with the program.
Higgins said his time at A&M is not only defined by the team’s success on the course, but also by the influence they had in the community.
“I am so proud of what we built here: the obvious are the incredible practice facilities and hardware in the trophy cases, but more subtle, I believe this golf program played a big role in Bryan-College Station becoming one of the best golf communities in the State of Texas,” Higgins told 12thman.com. “At least I hope we were part of it and I hope that we have brought a sense of pride to our university and community.”
A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork announced that eight-year assistant coach Brian Kortan will serve as interim head coach for this upcoming season. A national search for Higgins’ replacement will have to wait until 2021.
"I have truly enjoyed getting to know Coach Higgins during my time in Aggieland and have come to appreciate all that he has accomplished for our program and the relationships he has built over the last 20 years here at Texas A&M,” Bjork told 12thman.com. “We did everything we could to keep him and if Texas A&M was in California, we believe Coach Higgins would stay an Aggie, but we understand the personal draw to return to California and take over another great program. J.T. and his family will always be Aggies and we wish him the best at USC.
During his time at A&M, Higgins led the team to a National Championship in 2009, five top 10 NCAA finishes, 12 NCAA Championship appearances, 16 NCAA Regional appearances, one Big 12 Championship in 2012. He also earned two Conference Coach of the Year awards, three Regional Coach of the Year awards and a spot in the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2015.
Despite having their season cut short due to COVID-19, the men’s golf team finished the 2019-2020 season ranked No. 6 nationally by the GCAA.
“We have a saying on our team, ‘leave it better than you found it,’” Higgins told 12thman.com. “I think I can safely say that Aggie Golf has never been better. This year’s team is one of the best in the country, great recruits are committed for the future and the team is in great hands with Coach Kortan at the helm. I will miss all of you but I leave with a full, grateful heart and a head full of great memories of my time in Aggieland. Thank you for letting me lead your golf program the last two decades, it has been my greatest honor.”