Track and field coach Tom Tellez retires after years of coaching future Olympians

Rohith Nandagiri

Staff Writer

One of the greatest coaches in University of Houston history retired earlier this month and will hand over the program to a prominent track and field alumnus.

Tom Tellez, the men's track coach for more than 22 years, has stepped down, and Olympic gold medal winner Leroy Burrell, a former Cougar, is "99 percent sure" he will take the job.

Tellez, who has coached such superstars as Carl Lewis, Frank Rutherford and Burrell, is leaving one of the most successful track programs in America.

All current coaches will remain in place with Burrell taking over.

Tellez started his track coaching in 1956 and has coached at the high school, junior college and university levels.

Under his guidance, the Cougars have won seven Southwest Conference championships and four Conference USA championships.

In Tellez's final stretch as head coach the Cougars sent him off well. UH won the C-USA outdoor championships May 16 and, earlier this year ,won the C-USA indoor championships.

This is the second year in a row UH has swept the Conference titles in track and field.

Co-captain Dennis Darling, another Cougar Olympian, is greatly humbled by Tellez. "He is one of the greatest coaches in the history of track and field," Darling said. "He's been here a long time, and he sacrificed a lot to coach us. He loves the sport, and he wanted to go out on a good note and he did that."

Tellez was recognized twice in the brief history of C-USA as coach of the year. In 1997 and 1998 he was named the outdoor and indoor coach of the year.

Burrell previously served as a volunteer assistant coach under Tellez and will be given the reins of a program engulfed in tradition and honor.

Darling likes the idea of a former Olympic sprinter as his coach. "He is a younger coach who can relate to athletes of the '90s. I am looking forward to working with him," he said.

Burrell captured the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and holds numerous UH and American records. His 100-meter time of 9.85 seconds is the top time in America and is only one one-hundredth of a second behind the world record held by Canada's Donovan Bailey. In 1989, he broke the UH record with a time of 9.94 at Robertson Stadium.

Karim Alston, who also had a strong performance at the conference outdoors, thinks Burrell can be beneficial to the program. "He really won't be working with me because I run middle distances, but he will be good to the program overall," Alston said.

Tellez will leaves the program after the conclusion of the NCAA Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.

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