Gladchukis vision for
UH Athletics becoming
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,"
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
"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
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.