At the 1989 NCAA Outdoor Championships, Henry became just the third coach in NCAA history to enjoy national championships in both a men’s and women’s sport, and he is the only coach in NCAA history to win both men’s and women’s track & field national titles in the same year, a feat which he achieved three times (1989 outdoor, 1990 outdoor, and 2004 indoor).
Henry graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He later earned a master’s degree in education administration from Western New Mexico University in 1979.
In his early career, Henry served as head coach at Hobbs (NM) High School, where his teams won five state championships. He began his college coaching career at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas in 1983. Only 3 years after taking over the program, he won the first of two consecutive National Junior College National Titles. Henry earned both Indoor and Outdoor National Junior College Coach of the Year honors in 1986 and 1987 for his efforts.
In 1987, he was hired by LSU, winning a national championship, three SEC titles, and two conference Coach of the Year awards in his first year alone. This initial success eventually totaled 27 national titles (including 11 straight on the women’s side, the longest streak in the history of NCAA Division I women’s athletics), 19 SEC titles, 15 SEC Coach of the Year awards, and five National Coach of the Year honors at LSU. Only fellow Hall of Famer John McDonnell has more NCAA Division I titles in any sport.
In all, the Tigers and Lady Tigers combined to win an unprecedented 16 national titles in the 4x100m relay and nine NCAA titles in the 4x400m relay in Henry’s 17 years at the helm. His relays made history during the 1992 season as LSU became the first school in NCAA history to claim gold in both the men and women’s 4×100 in the same year. Henry’s relay teams duplicated the feat several times, sweeping the 4×100 relays in 1993, 1994, and 2003.
LSU also produced 37 Olympians and 38 World Championship competitors during the Henry era, totals that include three Olympic Gold Medalists and five medalists at the World Championships. In 2006, Henry served as head track & field coach for the U.S. Team at the IAAF World Cup.
Henry’s coaching abilities can be traced through his lineage. In 1911, when sprint sensation Gwinn Henry (Pat’s grandfather) was declared the “fastest man in the world,” one reporter wrote, “Unlike most champions, he is not a talker.” Gwinn, a native of Eden, Texas, went on to serve as the head football and track coach at Kansas, Missouri, and New Mexico, while his son Gwinn Bub followed in his footsteps as an assistant track coach at New Mexico.
The Henrys’ coaching tradition has continued into the third generation as Pat now leads the Texas A&M track & field program, while brothers Matt and Mark previously coached at the University of New Mexico.