Ralph Higgins was a three-sport letterman at Oklahoma State University (then Oklahoma A&M College) who later led the Cowboy track & field and cross country teams to 17 consecutive Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) titles and the 1954 NCAA Cross Country Championship, during a tenure that lasted from 1935-67.
Higgins graduated from Oklahoma State in 1925, and in 1935 he became head coach at his alma mater. He quickly turned Oklahoma State into a powerhouse, winning 17 consecutive MVC track & field championships from 1938-57, the 1954 NCAA Division I Cross Country title, and a runner-up finished at the 1965 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships.
Higgins’s teams included 36 All Americans and several athletes who won NCAA or AAU titles. Among his most talented athletes were Olympic Gold Medalist Jim Mashburn; pole vaulters Jim Graham, George Davies, and Aubrey Dooley; and miler Tom Von Ruden. Higgins also coached sprinter Orlando Hazley, a three-time Big 8 conference champion who became the first African-American to letter at Oklahoma State in any sport.
In 1968, Higgins retired from Oklahoma State and became coach of the U.S. Army team. During his tenure with the U.S. Army squad, Higgins had six athletes qualify for the Olympic Team.
In his career, Higgins coached five world record holders. He also served as an assistant coach on the U.S. Olympic Team staff in 1956 and 1960. Higgins served as President of the track coaches association in his final year at Oklahoma State (1967-68). For his accomplishments, he is recognized in both the Oklahoma State University Athletics Hall of Honor and the Drake Relays Hall of Fame.