Meet Nick Papac: Youngest NCAA Coach Ever

Photos by Nicole Papac
Meet Nick Papac: Youngest NCAA Coach Ever
It was about 3:00 in the afternoon on April 29th in Shawnee Oklahoma (35 miles east of Oklahoma City) when Oklahoma Baptist Athletic Director Rob Davenport made history, without even thinking anything of it. 
He hired former OU tennis standout Nick Papac, who is believed to be the youngest coach for any men’s program in NCAA history. Not just tennis - all sports. Ever.
“It didn’t come across my mind. I thought that I was probably among the youngest. I honestly didn’t think about it until I got your voicemail,” Papac said.
At age 25, the former Oklahoma Sooners tennis standout is now leading not just the men’s tennis team at the Oklahoma Baptist University, but also the woman’s program.
“I knew I was young, very young to get a head coaching job, especially since my players are only a few years younger than me, but I didn’t think about it in terms of history or anything like that,” Papac chuckled.
We reached out to both the NCAA and ITA for records on ages of head coaches. There have been younger coaches for woman’s programs, but according to the NCAA Stats department, there is nothing to disprove that Nick Papac is the youngest coach for a men’s team in history.
Davenport says they had solid candidates for the job, but Papac really stood out.
“The thing that caught my attention about Nick was his tennis pedigree,” Davenport said. “Where we had been, where he had played, who he had played under, who he coached with, and when you look at it that way, it was pretty impressive.”
Papac grew up in Fresno, California, and started his college tennis career at Fresno State.
His father died in a tragic car accident in Fresno when Nick was just five-years-old. “I never thought of it as a difficult situation because I didn’t know any different, you know? It just seemed normal to me only having one parent growing up, because of my dad’s accident,” Papac said.
Nick Papac and Mom
His mother, Susan, had to raise Nick and his younger brother, Chris, by herself. “My mom means everything to me. To me and my brother,” he told me. “I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without my mom. She did an incredible job raising two boys by herself.”
During Papac’s freshman season at Fresno State, his mother moved back to her hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, where her family still resided. When Nick had the opportunity to transfer to the University of Oklahoma, he couldn’t turn it down. “I wanted to be closer to my family.”
Papac quickly became a star at OU, captaining the 2014-15 Sooner team, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation and won the 2015 ITA Indoor national title. He played on four Big 12 championship teams and two NCAA finalist squads while at OU.
After his time with the Sooners, he became a volunteer assistant at the University of Georgia in 2016, before heading back to Norman in the same role with OU for the 2017 season. Those experiences were "monumental," according to Papac. 
“{My experience at Georgia and Oklahoma} is why I got the job, honestly,” Papac said. “I think having the recommendations for the coaches I worked for at Georgia and the coaches I worked for at OU, and not just the tennis coaches but also other coaches in the athletic department. Having their recommendation was certainly a big factor in me getting the job here.”
Nick Papac at OU
Before making the hire, Davenport talked to some of Nick’s former colleagues, who all praised his coaching mindset: “They all came back and said the same thing. You know, yeah he’s young, but his coaching mind was more than just tennis, it has how to develop the student athlete, and make sure that they leave a better person than when they got there, as well as a better athlete. Somebody with his age, and that tennis background and then add that kind of mindset about coaching, that said a lot.”
Coming off a woman’s Great American Conference tournament title in 2016, and a men’s conference championship in 2017, Bison tennis has never been better. And now with the addition a young, impressive head coach to the mix, the future of OBU Tennis looks very bright.
“I think we are in as good, if not better a position than we’ve ever been,” Davenport told me. “We’ve got a great young coach in Nick, and then the assistant he hired, Jason Proctor, who was involved in the TCU program. Our alumni are very involved. We’ve shown a lot of success the past few years. So we feel like we are right on the cusp of really taking off and being a power in Division II.”
Oklahoma Baptist has been a provisional NCAA member since 2014, competing in the Division II Great American Conference, and are expected to officially become members for the upcoming school year. That move would make them postseason eligible in all sports.
Nick PapacPapac knows all about having success in the postseason, as his Fresno State team won the WAC his lone year there, and then won the Big 12 Championship all three of his years at OU. He was an assistant coach on Georgia’s 2016 SEC Championship team, and the OU Doubles team won the National Championship when he was an assistant in Norman.
So yeah, he’s used to winning.
“It’s my expectation to win the conference every year. That’s just the way I am.”
A newlywed and with a new job in Shawnee, it is an exciting time in Nick Papac’s life right now.
“I couldn’t be more excited. I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. I know I have a ton to learn, but I think that it’s going to be a great year here at OBU.”
History was made Bison Hill, but Papac and company are just focused on making OBU Tennis a force in Division II.