Friday, March 31, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 123

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About the Cougar

Clyde Drexler resigns
37-year-old wants more time with family

By Josh Gajewski
Daily Cougar Staff

Clyde Drexler made official on Thursday what he had been thinking about for over a year: He resigned as the head coach of the UH men's basketball team.

Citing a desire to spend more quality time with his family, Drexler, 37, called UH Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk late Wednesday evening and told him that he would not be returning for the 2000-01 season.

"Coaching takes up an incredible amount of your time," Drexler said. "As much as I enjoy it, it's a full time job and it takes you away from your family quite often, many hours in each day. At this point in my life, I need to take some time off in order to spend some time with my kids and relatives.

"I told the team that it has been a pleasurable experience, and I really love those guys," Drexler said. "This is one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. I still love the game; I just don't want to have to do it on a day-to-day basis."

Drexler spent the last 20 years of his life on the hardcourt: 18 as a player and the last two as the captain of the Cougars' ship. He compiled a 19-39 record, and his 2000 recruiting class has been rated by several outlets as one of the top 15 in the nation.

"This was a big shock to all of us," junior guard Chad Hendrick said. "There were rumors even after last year that he was leaving, but he reassured us that he was going to stay and wouldn't retire and we went with that. He told us that he'd be in it for the long haul, so obviously, the reason for his decision must have been pretty important. It was definitely a shocker."

Drexler had met with Gladchuk immediately after UH had been eliminated from the Conference USA Basketball Tournament, sparking initial rumors of a possible departure.

"We sat down and talked about virtually everything after the season had ended," Gladchuk said. "There was a little bit of question in his mind because of the demands that have been a part of (coaching). He hasn't had a break over the last 20 years. We talked about (Drexler's departure), but it was a real gray area -- nothing was of any substance. But it obviously came to a head here last evening at 10:30 when he called me and just said that it was time to move on."

George Sebring/The Daily Cougar

Clyde Drexler, speaking to reporters Thursday, states his intention to resign as head coach of the UH men's basketball team.

According to Byron Smith, coordinator of basketball operations, Drexler was still making calls to recruits over the past week.

And at a team meeting Wednesday afternoon with all the coaches and players, the situation was not discussed.

"We talked about everything we were trying to get done for next year," junior guard Treva Crosby said. "It was a good meeting and everything went good. This is really surprising."

"You could kind of see that look in his eyes over the last half of the year," Smith said. "There were some days that he had that look on his face like, 'What am I doing here?'"

Another team meeting was called just before the official announcement was made Wednesday to inform players of the news, but the word spread to many earlier in the day.

"He's a competitor, and no competitor likes to lose," UH freshman George Williams said. "He hadn't had much success in two years, so that might have had a role in it, but I understand.

"Most of the stuff I did this year I learned from him," Williams said. "Every time I step on the court to play he's going to be with me, because I learned a lot from him."

Where the program goes now is under speculation. Gladchuk met with each of the assistant coaches Thursday, and Reid Gettys in particular has been rumored as a possible replacement.

"(The assistants) have done a good job in laying the foundation in place," Gladchuk said. "They've done a nice job of recruiting and we've got a good schedule for next year.

"I'm also very much open to anyone who would be interested from the outside. I think it's a great job. There are a lot of attractive features about the job to coaches even outside our geographic area," he said. "It'll be interesting to see who makes the call, but (the search) is starting right now. This is a tremendous opportunity, and we'll move on it right away."

Gladchuk asked the players to give the department and the future coach time.

"I asked them to just give us a chance to identify this next coach and to give that coach a chance to talk to the players, to talk to the recruits and then make your decisions after that selection is in place, and I'll move on that as quickly as possible," he said.

One player who isn't going anywhere is Williams. "I'm not going anywhere -- no chance at all," he said, showing off a Cougar tattoo on his right arm. "We have a good class coming in and good guys coming back. It's still going up in my mind."

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