Nelson Haggerty, a longtime college basketball coach who joined North Texas’ staff in 2019, died in a single-car crash on U.S. Highway 380 early Friday morning.

Haggerty was 47.

“Our hearts hurt for Nelson’s family, our men’s basketball family, the UNT community and everyone Nelson positively impacted during his life and career,” UNT athletic director Wren Baker said in a statement. “Nelson had many special gifts and talents. He was full of positive energy and encouragement, and he will be missed dearly. Please keep the Haggerty family and our UNT basketball family in your thoughts and prayers.”

Haggerty mug

Nelson Haggerty

Haggerty, who lived in Denton, served as UNT’s director of basketball strategy and operations under coach Grant McCasland.

“Nelson Haggerty and I have been close,” McCasland said late last season. “He’s one of my best friends.”

Haggerty served as the associate head coach at Midwestern State from 2009-11 during McCasland’s tenure as the school’s head coach. Haggerty took over as Midwestern’s head coach after McCasland left the program.

Haggerty coached Midwestern State for eight seasons. He guided the Mustangs to five NCAA tournaments and two Lone Star Conference tournament titles before coming to UNT. He also coached at Hutchinson Community College, Pittsburg State, Central Missouri State and North Shore High School.

“Our Mustangs family is saddened to learn of Nelson’s passing,” MSU president Suzanne Shipley said in a statement. “He will have a special place in the legacy of our men’s basketball program and in the lives of those he mentored. Our hearts go out to Nelson’s family and his UNT family.”

Haggerty played at Baylor from 1991-95 and is the Bears all-time leader in assists with 699. He averaged a school record 10.14 assists per game in the 1994-95 season.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Baylor alum and @MeanGreenMBB assistant coach Nelson Haggerty,” the Baylor men’s basketball program said in a statement posted to its Twitter account.

The preliminary investigation report said that Nelson was headed east on U.S. Highway 380 near Decatur when he drove his 2008 Nissan Armada off the right side of the road, struck a culvert, overturned and went through a fence before the car came to a rest around 2:30 a.m.

Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the report.

Haggerty’s death comes just days after UNT completed the best season in program history. The Mean Green won four straight games in the Conference USA tournament and earned their first NCAA tournament berth since 2010.

UNT went on to post the first NCAA tournament win in program history when it knocked off Purdue in the opening round before falling to Villanova in a second-round game.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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