Wednesday, August 22, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 1


 
 









 
UH sports renaissance poised for championships

By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff

No special edition of The Daily Cougar sports would be complete without a few words about the man who conceived and executed the plan to transform UH 's athletic arenas
into world class facilities and elevate the university's teams back into national contenders.

Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk came to Houston in 1997 with the reputation of being a renovator of moribund sports programs. Gladchuk rebuilt programs at Boston College
and Tulane that had deteriorating facilities and mediocre teams and brought them national prominence.




Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk has much to smile about as he starts his fifth year on the job. He's been the driving force behind a major overhaul of Cougar Athletics, renovating the facilities as well as the teams.

"I've brought a stability, I think, to the program right now and a sense of confidence with all of our coaches and student athletes," Gladchuk said. "We're positioned to be
champions."

Gladchuk led the charge to restore Robertson Stadium to bring Cougar football back to the UH campus. The modern baseball and softball facilities built during his
administration rank among the best in the country.

"The University administration has been very enthusiastic about the direction we're headed," Gladchuk said. "We can't do it without the collective support of the administration,
the regents, the faculty and staff and students."

When the state-of-the-art recreation building under construction near Elgin Street is completed, Gladchuk plans to tackle the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion. That will complete
the facelift of UH athletic facilities.

"When you build a corporation or put a business together piece by piece, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work," Gladchuk said. "Commitment and resources have to be pulled
together, and that's happening here right now."

Gladchuk's expertise at evaluating personnel prevented a wipeout of Cougar coaches when he swung into action on the job. 

Diving head coach Jane Figueiredo, baseball head coach Rayner Noble, golf head coach Mike Dirks and the entire track and field staff assembled by legendary coach Tom
Tellez kept their jobs.

Figueiredo recruited a diver who won two NCAA championships last year as a freshman. Noble's teams have streaked to four consecutive NCAA tournaments. Dirks' golf teams
maintain top-10 national rankings year after year.

Gladchuk replaced a legend with a legend when he hired former Cougar Leroy Burrell to replace Tellez. 

Under Burrell's direction, track and field coaches Theresa Fuqua, Kyle Tellez, Mike Takaha and Howie Ryan coached their athletes to eight straight Conference USA championships and national rankings.

Women's basketball head coach Joe Curl has consistently recruited the top talent in the country and has the Lady Cougars poised to barge into the Big Dance in March.

Soccer has not finished below .500 in its four-year existence under former coach Chris Huston and head coach Bill Solberg. 

"There's not a program at UH that's not positioned, I believe, with an appropriate coaching staff and appropriate resources, that can't be a Conference USA champion,"
Gladchuk said. "The coaches know it, they understand it. I believe they appreciate what the university has done for them and now it's time to deliver."

Gladchuk's only miscue to date was Clyde Drexler and what Cougar fan wouldn't have hired Drexler?

Basketball head coach Ray McCallum and football head coach Dana Dimel, both in their second years at UH, were forced to play with the teams they inherited.

Gladchuk doesn't expect either coach to win a conference championship this year, but he does expect a competitive attitude on the playing field and both teams' caliber of play
to improve.

"We haven't arrived yet. By that I mean we haven't gone to our first bowl game yet, or first NCAA championship game in basketball," Gladchuk said. "I honestly feel as I look at
the horizon of Cougar sports, I can see the sail on the horizon. The ship is right over the edge and it's pointed in our direction. Our ship's going to come in here, in short order."
 
 
 
 
 

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