Nash Higgins became the athletic director for the University of Tampa in 1933. At that time, the school was still known as Tampa Junior College. A committee recommended names for the school’s athletic teams. Since St. Petersburg Junior College was expected to be the arch rival, and they were using the nickname Trojans, the name Spartans was selected from the ancient Greek Trojans/Spartans war. In 1933, when the school became the University of Tampa, athletic director and head football coach Nash Higgins selected the team colors. Since most of his players came from Hillsborough High School (red and black) and Plant High School (black and gold), Higgins combined the colors of those two schools making the UT’s colors red, black and gold.
Higgins, formerly an assistant football coach at the University of Florida, was the head coach from 1933 to 1940 with a 36-39-5 record. Part of his legend is that when he traveled north on recruiting trips, Higgins did so in a donated bus that carried players, crates of oranges and a pet alligator.