GREENSBORO – Richard Watkins has been named the first-ever men’s and women’s varsity golf coach at North Carolina A&T State University as announced by director of athletics Earl Hilton on Thursday. Watkins will start the women’s program in the fall of 2016. The men’s program will begin the following autumn.
“Richard Watkins has always been on my short list of candidates for Golf Coach here at A&T,” said A&T athletics director, Earl M. Hilton III. “He is precisely what we need in order to get two new golf programs off the ground. Coach Watkins is a fixture in the Greensboro golfing community. He has a tremendous passion for the game and for student-athletes. He has decades of experience in teaching the game, and he’s a proven winner. I could not be more pleased to add him to our coaching staff.”
For Watkins and many longtime supporters of A&T athletics, an Aggies golf program has been a long-awaited wish come true. When Watkins arrived at A&T in 1976 to pursue a master’s degree in physical education, legendary men’s basketball coach Cal Irvin and Dr. Otis Tillman, Sr., an A&T graduate, convinced Watkins to become the golf coach of an A&T club team.
Even though a varsity team never materialized, Watkins served as a golf instructor over a span of nearly 40 years, but never lost hope that A&T would one day start a golf program.
“I’m excited,” said Watkins about becoming the Aggies coach. “I know others are excited too. A lot of people have wanted a golf program here for years. Anytime any of the past (A&T) athletics directors wanted information on what it would take to start a program, I was more than willing to help, so I’m looking forward to building a winner. I want to thank (Chancellor Harold L. Martin), athletics director Earl Hilton and the rest of the athletic administration for having the forethought to bring this program into fruition.”
Watkins has been a part of the pro shop staff at Gillespie Park Golf Course in Greensboro for the past 20 years. His responsibilities included course maintenance and private and group golf instruction. He has also served as a golf instructor for the Multicultural Golf Association of America clinics and the TYGR Paws clinics. He has also worked at the Oak Hollow Golf Course (High Point) and was a volunteer assistant golf coach at Page High School under head coach Debbie Jones.
In 1992, Watkins returned to A&T to become an instructor in the physical education department now known as human performance and leisure studies, a position he still holds. From 1993-96, he was the head baseball coach for the Aggies, helping the Aggies win the ‘93 MEAC championship.
Before returning to Aggieland, he was a physical education instructor, head baseball and volleyball coach and supervisor of physical education student teachers at Texas College (Tyler, Texas) from 1982-92. His Texas College baseball teams won six straight Interregional Athletic Conference baseball championships from 1986-91 and he was named coach of the year in each of those seasons. Texas College also made the NAIA District Baseball Playoffs six times during his tenure. He was volleyball coach of the year in 1985 and from 1987-91.
Watkins is a 1976 graduate of High Point College, where he earned a B.S., degree in physical education and became the first African American to play on the golf team. He earned his master’s degree at A&T in 1977. He has also had further study at Middle Tennessee State University.