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