Houston Cougars Introduce Kelvin Sampson, Look to a New Era


Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

After reaching an agreement with former Rockets assistant Kelvin Sampson on Wednesday, the Houston Cougars officially introduced Sampson as the university’s ninth head basketball coach on Thursday. Sampson and his family were welcomed to the Cougar family in front of a Hofheinz Pavilion crowd that included Rockets GM Daryl Morey, players James Harden and Patrick Beverley, who attended to show support for their now former assistant coach.

According to Mark Berman of KRIV Fox 26 in Houston, sources confirmed Sampson’s deal with the Coogs is a 5-year/$4.5 million deal that includes an incentive and bonus package that could bump his annual salary to seven figures. Sampson was Houston’s main target the day that former head coach James Dickey announced he was stepping down. The partnership is a good one for both sides, as the Coogs look to resurrect their once proud program, and Sampson returns to the NCAA looking to rebound from sanction mired tenures at his last two collegiate stops.

He wasted no time addressing those matters at Thursday’s presser. Following the introductory remarks by Cougars AD Mack Rhoades, Sampson’s first words referred to the impermissible phone call controversies that led to the end of his tenures at both Oklahoma and Indiana.

“Before I go any further I want to say this. Mistakes were made; lessons were learned. Although I don’t agree with all the conclusions the NCAA made, I respect the NCAA as an institution. The head coach is responsible for his program. I will be responsible for our staff at the University of Houston. Compliance will be a higher priority and our staff will understand that. I appreciate the opportunity to be here and the opportunity to be head coach.”

When pressed a couple of times to elaborate on what occurred at his last two head coaching stops, Sampson responded,

“I’m excited about the future. That stuff is in the past — all of it.”

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

With that, Sampson was ready to put the past behind him, and look forward to a new beginning for himself, and a new era for U of H basketball. After showing strides this past season in the inaugural season of the American Athletic Conference, including a win over Final Four bound UConn, the Cougars expect to take the next step and compete for the conference title and NCAA tourney. Sampson possessed the best combination of experience and success on the NCAA level of anyone that the Coogs could have hired.

Accompanying him on the sidelines will be a familiar face to Sampson, and a familiar face to Cougar basketball fans. During the presser, he announced that his son Kellen Sampson would be joining his staff as an assistant. The younger Sampson was most recently an assistant coach at Appalachian State. After the press conference, it was also announced that top Cougars assistant Alvin Brooks would be retained on Sampson’s staff.

The Coogs have all of the pieces in place to bring excitement to Hofheinz again. Their return to glory has been a long time coming. On Thursday, they felt that they introduced the man who will lead them there. This time, I believe that they got it right.

Check out Tristan Taylor’s thoughts on how Kelvin Sampson can help the Cougars by clicking here.

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