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Texas A&M men's golf coach J.T. Higgins headed to Southern California

Texas A&M men's golf coach J.T. Higgins headed to Southern California

Texas A&M men’s golf coach J.T. Higgins has been named the new head coach at the University of Southern California, USC announced Friday.

The native of Meridian, Idaho, spent part of his early years living in Venice, California, which he emphasized in a statement released by USC.

“This is such an incredible, exciting day for me,” he said. “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 [USC athletic director] 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.”

Higgins was in the midst of his 19th season at A&M before the spring golf season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2009, Higgins led the Aggie men’s golf program to its first national championship, as part of a string of 12 straight NCAA tournament appearances from 2002 to 2014. The Aggies finished nationally in the top five in 2018 and 2019 and sat sixth in the nation before the abrupt cancellation of the 2020 season.

“The decision to leave Texas A&M was the most difficult of my life,” Higgins said in a statement released by A&M. “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.”

In 2015, Higgins was inducted to the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame.

“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,” A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said in a statement. “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.”

Assistant Brian Kortan will take over as interim head coach. Kortan has served as an assistant in Aggieland for seven seasons, aiding the Aggies in five NCAA tournaments and the two recent top-five finishes.

“We have a saying on our team, ‘leave it better than you found it,’” Higgins said in the statement from A&M. “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.

Former USC men’s golf head coach Chris Zambri, a USC alumnus, mutually agreed to part ways in July, according to a release from the program. Zambri led the Trojans to 12 NCAA championship final week appearances and three conference titles in his 14 seasons in Los Angeles.

Eleven of A&M’s lowest season scoring averages have come under Higgins’ watch, which produced five professional tour players.

“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 said in the statement from A&M. “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.

Higgins replaced Bob Ellis at A&M in 2001 after four seasons at New Mexico. Higgins went to college at Eastern Oregon State College.

NOTE — Kortan is the father of Sam Houston State sophomore guard Cade Kortan. The younger Kortan led the College Station boys basketball team to a 35-3 record, the best in program history, and was a TABC all-region selection in 2019.

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