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, after receiving his master's degree in physical education, he became UNI's first full-time varsity assistant wrestling coach
In high school, 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. He was named National Rookie Coach of the Year for his outstanding season. Briggs coached the Panthers to a 164-98 record, giving him the most Division I victories in UNI wrestling history. Briggs was also named the NCAA West Regional Coach of the Year ten times.
Coach Briggs in his rookie season
In 1987 Briggs led the Panthers to eighteen victories, the most in school history for a single season. Briggs coached fifty-one All-Americans and fourteen national champions. The Panthers dominated the West Regional after 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 on June 30, 1997, to teach full time in the school's Department of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services.
Compiled by Student Assistant Jonathan Russell; edited by Library Assistant Susan A. Basye, May 1997; last updated, January 14, 2014 (GP).