When Don Briggs became the head wrestling coach in 1982, he had already been working at UNI for seven years. From 1974 through 1975, he was a graduate assistant, and then in 1975 he became UNI's first full-time varsity assistant wrestling coach after he received his Master's degree in Physical Education.
At the high school level, Briggs wrestled at Jefferson High School in his hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At the college level, he was an outstanding wrestler for three years at the University of Iowa. Under head coach Dave McCuskey , he compiled an individual record of 30-5-1, which included a fourth place finish in the Big Ten Conference his sophomore year, and third place finishes his junior and senior year. He graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education.
Briggs was the assistant coach at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1973. He then became a graduate assistant for Coach Chuck Patten at UNI from 1974 through 1975. In 1975 he became the full-time varsity assistant wrestling coach.
During his first year as head coach, he guided the Panthers to a 17-3 record, which included a tenth place finish at the NCAA Championships, and was named National Rookie Coach of the Year for his outstanding season. Since then, Briggs has coached the Panthers to a 164-98 record, giving him the most Division I victories in UNI wrestling history. Briggs has also been named the NCAA West Regional Coach of the Year ten times.
Coach Briggs in his rookie season
In 1987 Briggs led the Panthers to 18 victories, the most in school history for a single season. Briggs has coached 51 All-Americans and 14 national champions. The Panthers have dominated the West Regional since Briggs took over, placing second from 1983 through 1985, and winning it the following twelve seasons.
Briggs stepped down as Head Coach of the UNI wrestling team June 30, 1997, to teach full time in the school's Department of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services.
Compiled by Jonathan Russell; edited by Susan A. Basye
Special Collections and University Archives