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Volume 5, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Athletics focuses on economics; 
Briles hires Spradlin

By Ed De La Garza
Breaking News

The air is still buzzing with excitement over new UH football head coach Art Brilesí arrival on campus, but the Athletics Department has entered its next phase of reconstruction: fundraising. Briles is talking about winning and losing and getting the football program where it needs to be, while the department is talking about dollars and cents.

The University and former head coach Dana Dimel agreed to terms of a buyout on his contract earlier this month. Dimel will receive $639,696 for the remaining two years of his deal. His contract had a base salary of $300,000 per year with an additional $300,000 coming from external sources. The money will not be paid until Dec. 2004.

Brilesí five-year contract has a base salary of $250,000. With incentives, Briles could receive $450,000 a year, but itís at least a $150,000 per-year drop from Dimelís salary.

"We thought it was fair," Athletics Director Dave Maggard said. "Weíll try to move it up as quickly as we can." Maggard said the difference in pay wasnít because of experience factors (Briles has not been a head coach at the college level), but because of the departmentís financial situation. He stated Dimelís contract -- made under former AD Chet Gladchuk -- was the highest for a coach in Conference USA.

Given that, in 2004, more than $1 million will go to two football coaches -- with only one of them being a current employee -- the University will look to private donations to help with Dimelís contract. Donations are even more important for a department that was operating with a $9.3 million deficit as of April -- and for one Maggard says hasnít done a good job of raising money.

"Weíre trying to increase our annual giving," Maggard said. "We just have not done an adequate job of raising annual funds for operational costs. That will be our primary emphasis. We have to increase donations."

Making the coaching change with two years remaining on Dimelís deal was made with the departmentís condition in mind.

"The intent was to improve the situation," Maggard said. "The financial situation has been a very severe one. From how itís developed over the last three to five years -- we were really at rock bottom."

Though itís not on solid footing, Maggard said he feels Briles is the person who can lead the football program back to prominence -- and get the department back on track.

"He has an enthusiasm we have not had," Maggard said. "I think we have the absolute best person we could have at UH. I have lot of confidence in him. Weíre all going to work together."

Building a staff

Over the weekend, Briles added Dave Aranda, Oscar Giles and Ron Harris to his coaching staff. Tuesday, he announced a new addition as his staff takes shape. Former Cougar Mike Spradlin will return to the UH campus after having been the head coach of Round Rock Westwood High School for four years.

Spradlin, who was an offensive lineman for the Cougars from 1973 to í76, will coach the tight ends and slot receivers.

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