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

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UH's new track facility to open this weekend

About the Cougar

Tough times ... again

Drexler's resignation leaves players, program in state of shock

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Daily Cougar Staff

In the end, Clyde Drexler just couldn't spread himself that thin.

It was inevitable, according to him. However, Drexler leaves a program that is right on the brink of becoming something special.

"Coaching takes up an unbelievable amount of time," Drexler said. "I have a lot of respect for the people that do it year after year. I just needed to take some time off. It's a tough decision -- one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make."

"We had talked about it two weeks ago," UH athletic director Chet Gladchuk said. "It was a real gray area (two weeks ago), but it didn't really hit hard until (Wednesday night) when he called me around 10:30 to tell me that he felt it was time to move on."

Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar

Clyde Drexler's resignation as head coach of the UH men's basketball team leaves his players and the school in a state of shock.

The UH men's basketball team's rebuilding process has come to a screeching halt. Drexler's departure now leaves players, fans and the school in a state of shock.

"I was definitely shocked," this year's outstanding UH freshman George Williams said. "But I understand his reasons. I totally understand."

It's a good thing Williams is one of the greatest student athletes in the history of the school. His commitment and work ethic are what it will take to keep UH's program together.

Some players might ask for permission to transfer and look to play elsewhere, but not Williams. He is committed to the program's rebuilding process and he sees himself as a big chunk of that future.

"(Drexler) was definitely one of the reasons I decided to come to the University of Houston," Williams said. "But I'm not going anywhere."

Kevin Harwerth/
The Daily Cougar

UH's George Williams, this year's first-year player who made quite an impression on everyone around the NCAA, is content with moving ahead at UH after the resignation of his first college coach, Clyde Drexler.

"See this?" he asked as he flashed a tattoo of the UH Cougar on his right biceps. "I'm not going anywhere. I'm here to stay."

Unfortunately, Williams' former coach did not have the same commitment to the team as he did. However, Drexler's family takes the front seat here, as it should.

"I'm a hands-on father," he said. "I love the game and I want to remain close to it, but not on a daily basis. I wanted to spend more quality time with my family, and now I have the chance to do that."

But, Drexler's wishes lead to UH's problems. There are a few questions Gladchuk and the Cougars will have to ask themselves.

What do we do now? Where do we go from here? Didn't we just go through this? What do we do with our recruits? Will we be able to recruit now?

The search is on, obviously. Gladchuk is already receiving calls from possible candidates. But how much work will he have to do for this school? He is only a few months removed from hiring UH's new football coach -- a process that took hours and hours of work.

Now, finding a new men's basketball coach is the task before him. Drexler was one of the biggest hires for this school, and fans and alumni alike will be looking for Gladchuk to either repeat or better that move.

"Clyde and I became very close," Gladchuk said. "He's a great person and on the court he was great for our program. Of course it hurts to lose him. His first two years here were supposed to be the launching pad for our future. So yeah, it's tough, but we move on."

They have to.

But the program has to take a deep breath before doing so. This will be the second coaching change in two years for UH.

"Some of us have had to go through this twice," junior swingman Chad Hendrick said. "A lot of us will have to suck it up and get through it, but I think we can. I have confidence that this team is capable of moving on without (Drexler). We have no choice, but we can do it."

In some ways, Drexler couldn't have timed his decision any worse. The program is about to embark to bigger things. An All-American (Alton Ford) signed a letter of intent to attend UH. At least two junior college standouts were planning to don Cougar red next year. Drexler was the tool for recruiting the best talent in the city, the state and the country.

Gladchuk must look beyond that now. If the program is still committed to rebuild, a hire similar to Drexler's seems almost necessary.

"It's not my job to make recommendations," Drexler said, "but I think any of our assistants (Reid Gettys, George Walker and Reid Martinka) are qualified. I would like to see someone close to the program do it. A Cougar would be nice."

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