Nelson Haggerty main

North Texas director of basketball strategy and operations Nelson Haggerty waves to the crowd at the Super Pit during a celebration of the Mean Green’s run to the NCAA tournament earlier this month. Haggerty was killed in a car accident on April 16.

Tributes continued to pour in following the death of North Texas basketball assistant Nelson Haggerty on Saturday, when friends launched a fundraiser to support his family.

Haggerty, who spent last season as UNT’s director of basketball strategy and operations, was killed in a single-car crash early Friday morning on U.S. Highway 380 near Decatur.

Haggerty, 47, left behind his wife, Krissie, and four children.

UNT officials remembered Haggerty for his energy and contributions that were often overlooked since he joined the program in 2019.

“He was a quiet and steadying influence on the team,” said Dave Barnett, the radio voice of the Mean Green. “He didn’t need to yell and scream to make a point.”

Those traits made Haggerty a widely respected member of UNT’s athletics department and the college basketball community that is banding together to support his family.

A fundraiser has been set up to assist the family in the coming weeks by providing meals and gift cards for groceries and food.

Haggerty family

North Texas basketball assistant Nelson Haggerty, top right, died in a single-car crash early Friday. Friends and family are raising money to support his wife, Krissie, and his four children.

The effort had brought in more than $3,600 by early Saturday afternoon, just hours after UNT released a statement on Haggerty’s death.

“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 the 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 played at Baylor from 1991-95 and is the Bears’ all-time leader in assists with 699. He led the country with an average of 10.1 assists per game as a senior in the 1994-95 campaign.

“We are devastated by the tragic passing of Nelson Haggerty,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said in a statement. “He was a great player known for his unselfishness and charismatic personality during his four years at Baylor, and he has gone on to become a tremendous leader of young men throughout his coaching career.”

Haggerty coached at Hutchinson Community College, Pittsburg State, Central Missouri State and North Shore High School but is best known for his time as the head coach at Midwestern State.

Haggerty served as the head coach at the Division II school from 2011-19. He guided the Mustangs to five NCAA tournaments and four Lone Star Conference titles before coming to UNT.

Haggerty helped UNT navigate a challenging season from a logistical standpoint due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was responsible for handling UNT’s travel arrangements in his role as the Mean Green’s director of operations.

“So much to say and not enough space,” UNT assistant coach Matt Braeuer wrote on Twitter. “So thankful basketball brought us together. God doesn’t make mistakes. I loved being around you, learning from you, laughing with you, fighting through losses with you and enjoying the highs of winning with you. I love you brother.”

The National Association of Basketball Coaches also offered its condolences.

“What a man. My brother, mentor, coach, boss, friend, and so much more,” Jon Trilli, a former UNT assistant coach who is now on the staff at Abilene Christian, said on his Twitter account. “Labels just don’t do justice for some people. I was always looking up to you. Now you don’t even have to climb the ladder to for me. Rest easy, Hagg. Go get your wings and let’s keep cutting these nets.”

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

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