FORT MYERS, Fla., - FGCU Director of Athletics, Carl McAloose has announced that Chris Highfield, who served the past six seasons as Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach and Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach has resigned his dual posts to pursue other professional opportunities. Highfield, who has been at FGCU for the last seven years, will remain at FGCU until July 1.
“Chris has done an outstanding job for us and will be greatly missed,” said McAloose. “He was an extremely valuable addition to our athletics department’s staff in our early years and has done a great job wearing several hats during his time with us. I know he will be very successful in all of his future endeavors.”
On the hardwood, Highfield has played an integral role in the overall development of the men’s basketball program, as he has served as Head Coach Dave Balza’s right hand man since the inception of the program. Highfield has helped the Eagles compile an overall record of 124-60 in six seasons, having averaged 20 wins per year. During his tenure the Eagles posted a 22-5 record in 2003-2004, climbing as high as the No. 5 ranking in the NABC/Division II Top 25 poll in late January. The following 2004-2005 season the Eagles played their way to a 24-7 overall record, capturing the programs first, and to date only, NCAA II tournament appearance. Additionally, during the 2006-2007 campaign, the Eagles posted a 27-6 overall record, which still stands as the most wins in a season in the program's short history. This season the Eagles concluded their first year of Division I competition and finished in eighth place within the Atlantic Sun Conference.
In addition, Highfield has served as the only coach for the FGCU cross country programs, which he built both from scratch, creating and developing every aspect of the Eagles men’s and women’s programs.
During his tenure, Highfield led the Eagles to three consecutive NCAA Division II South Regional trips in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2004, Highfield coached the first two student-athletes (Edison Vasquez and Katy Steffan) in FGCU athletics history to compete in a sanctioned NCAA Championship Event – the Division II Cross Country South Regionals in Memphis, TN on November 6, 2004.
During the 2005 season, the men’s and women’s programs competed for the first time as a team at the Division II South Regional Championships in Dade City, FL. There his squads ran to a 16th and 17th place finish respectively.
With the 2006 season being the last year FGCU would compete at the Division II level, the cross country teams ended their Division II days with a statement, grabbing two top ten finishes (men’s eighth and women’s tenth) at the D-II South Regional Championships in Memphis, TN.
Last fall, Highfield led the Eagles through their first season as a Division I program. In a respectable first year conference campaign, the women’s team ran to a 7th place finish, while the men’s team placed 8th out of twelve teams at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships. Additionally, the women’s team also won their first meet in program's short history, claiming the ’07 West Florida Invitational title.
Away from the athletic fields, Highfield’s teams have also attained much success on the academic front. In 2006, he had three student-athletes named Division II Academic All-Americans and both his men’s and women’s teams were named as National Division II All-Academic Programs. Additionally, this past fall, nine combined cross country student-athletes were named as Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic Student-Athlete recipients. Furthermore, the women's program in particular has set the academic standard within the athletics department, capturing the FGCU Athletic Director's Award (the department's highest team GPA) three out of the last five years.
Highfield, a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, arrived at FGCU after spending one season as an assistant coach at Saint Joseph's College, in Indiana. Prior to that, he served a five year stint as an student assistant at the University of Michigan.
“It has been a genuine pleasure working for and representing the FGCU athletics department during these past seven years. I appreciate the extraordinary opportunity, in which I was given and have very much enjoyed being a part of the Eagles athletic family.” Highfield stated. “I have tremendously enjoyed working with all of my former and current student-athletes and with FGCU’s fine staff of professionals and colleagues. I will certainly miss my associations here. I wish the entire FGCU athletics department nothing but continued success in all future academic and athletic endeavors.”