Thursday, January 25, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 82



Gladchukis vision for UH Athletics becoming 
a reality

By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff

Some men climb a mountain when they seek a challenge. Chet Gladchuk became Athletics Director at UH.

Mount Everest would have been less of a challenge for Gladchuk than the job of resurrecting Cougar sports, but Gladchuk had a vision and, more importantly, the determination to succeed where others failed.

Gladchuk arrived on campus in July 1997 when Cougar football was playing in front of sparse crowds at the Astrodome. The menis and womenis basketball programs were headed south, and baseball head coach Raynor Noble was just beginning to work his magic.

The track team under former coach Tom Tellez was running and winning in Robertson Stadium while Mike Dirksi golf teams were perennial top 10 finishers.

"When I first came here, I was intent on bringing football back on campus. We needed to refurbish Robertson Stadium. In order to create a football environment we needed to move the track," Gladchuk said.

His plan for Robertson Stadium was to create a facility that would accommodate football and soccer.

"We wanted to host international soccer events on campus, which weive done on numerous occasions," Gladchuk said.

John Mooresi generous gift of more than $50 million helped the sports program by providing the funds to build a new Athletic/Alumni Center and a state-of-the-art indoor track facility.

It was Gladchukis idea to move the track behind the new Athletic/Alumni Center.

"It was obvious to me that the most ideal location for an outdoor track would be adjacent to the indoor track," Gladchuk said. "I decided to move the parking lot and build about a $4-million structure out back, which we think is one of the nicest tracks in the country."

Gladchuk points out with pride that the money for all the sports construction projects did not cost the University a dime.

"We had to raise the money. Everything weive built over the past three years has been funded exclusively by external dollars," Gladchuk said. "Weive been fortunate because weive had tremendous support recently by some major donors and foundations."

Gladchuk said the sports department raised almost $13 million to accomplish these goals.

Improving the campus sports facilities was only half the solution to bringing major college sports back to the level UH enjoyed in the past. Gladchuk needed coaches who could get the job done.

The major sports -- football and basketball -- were floundering. Gladchuk fired former football coach Kim Helton and his 24-53-1 win-loss record and hired Dana Dimel from Wyoming.

Gladchuk hired Clyde Drexler in a move that dazzled the fans but fizzled on the court. When Drexler resigned, Gladchuk hired Ray McCallum to guide the Cougar basketball team out of the rut it has been stuck in for several years.

The jury is still out on McCallum and Dimel. Dimel suffered a losing season and McCallum, struggling at 4-13, would have to win all of the remaining 10 games to enjoy a winning season in his inaugural year.

Gladchuk has high accolades for track and field head coach Leroy Burrell, whose track teams dominate Conference USA year after year.

"Heis the most successful hire Iive had as an athletic director in many years," Gladchuk said.

Glachuk hired Joe Curl to guide the womenis basketball team. In his third season, Curl has the team atop C-USA.

A ripple effect is forming with Gladchukis hires: He brings the coaches in and they win.

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