University of Mount Olive President Dr. H. Edward Croom has announced the appointment of Joey Higginbotham as Director of Athletics. He will succeed Jeff Eisen who retired in December after almost a decade at the helm of Trojan athletics.
Higginbotham’s connection to Mount Olive athletics first began when he was a student and member of the men’s basketball team. With a degree from UMO in sports management, he was hired in 1999 to join the coaching staff of the Trojan men’s basketball program.
In May of 2008, he was promoted to Head Coach, succeeding longtime Coach Bill Clingan. As head coach, Higginbotham guided Mount Olive to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight for the second time in school history and to their first-ever 30-win season in 2014-15. Mount Olive posted a 31-4 record and won the Conference Carolinas regular-season title with a 19-1 mark. Mount Olive won the NCAA II Southeast Regional as the No. 4 seed, defeating topseeded Lincoln Memorial.
During his 14 seasons as Head Coach, Higginbotham was named Conference Carolinas Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year four times. He was also selected as 2009-10 NABC Division II Men’s Basketball Southeast Region Coach of the Year. Throughout his UMO coaching career, Higginbotham had an overall record of 231-140 and a conference record 166-84. He has also had an impact on the academic side with 97.3 percent of his basketball student-athletes graduating.
On March 1, 2008, with Higginbotham at the helm, the men’s basketball program made school history with it first ever live national television appearance in a game against rival Barton College which aired on what is now CBS Sports Network.