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Sunday, October 1, 2023


Athletics director leaving campus

The UH athletics director will officially step down May 11, UH President Renu Khator announced at a press conference Wednesday at O’Quinn Great Hall inside the Athletics/Alumni Center.’

Maggard said he is leaving to spend more time with his family.

‘Following a visit with our family in California over the Easter weekend, (my wife and I) began to discuss our retiring to be closer to family,’ Maggard said. ‘We felt this to be a good time to retire from UH, while I am still in excellent health and have great enthusiasm for life and am able to work long hours.’

Deputy director of athletics John Robinson will serve as interim director of athletics while UH searches for Maggard’s replacement.’

‘We will be hiring a national search firm and putting together a search committee very soon,’ Khator said.’

Maggard announced a plan to revitalize Robertson Stadium Monday, which would increase seating capacity and improve services. The plan is pending approval from the Board of Regents and awaits additional funding before construction can begin. Maggard expressed the need to move forward with the upgrade Wednesday.

‘This may have been my idea, but it’s really the University’s project,’ Maggard said. ‘It has not been approved, but President Khator is very much for it, and I think the Regents will be for it. This University needs it to be in Division I-FBS to do the kinds of things that everyone wants to do.”

Maggard made numerous improvements to UH’s athletic performance and facilities during his seven-year tenure. The Cougars won more than 20 Conference USA championships with him at the helm.’

The baseball team made back-to-back trips to the NCAA super regional in 2002 and 2003, while the softball squad made its first super regional appearance in school history in 2008.

‘I can remember when we went to the super regionals in 2002 when he came on board, and (Maggard) was like a kid in a candy store,’ UH baseball head coach Rayner Noble said. ‘He would sit on the bus with us everywhere we went. It was a special deal. Here’s your athletics director, and he’s just right in the foxhole with you every step of the way.’

One of Maggard’s greatest achievements was increasing student-athletes’ graduation rates to an all-time high of 59 percent from 27 percent.’

‘ ‘A lot of people are responsible for (the graduation rate), and the coaches, staff and players have bought into that. That is an important part of the image and the credibility of this University,’ Maggard said.

Maggard hired Kevin Sumlin, the first black head football coach in UH history. In December 2008, Sumlin led the Cougars to their first bowl victory since 1980. Before Sumlin’s arrival, Maggard landed Art Briles, who, in 2006, led the football team to its first C-USA title in program history before leaving for Baylor.

Maggard also negotiated a lease agreement with the Houston Dynamo and worked with Rice University to bring the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four to Houston in 2011 and 2016.’

He hired men’s head basketball coach Tom Penders, who returned respectability to a once-prestigious program left tarnished by former head coaches Ray McCallum, Clyde Drexler and Alvin Brooks.

The focus now shifts to Robinson, who Maggard praised during and after the press conference.’

‘I am really pleased that President Khator has named John Robinson as the interim,’ Maggard said. ‘He is a first-class guy in every respect. He will do a tremendous job.’

Robinson, who Maggard brought to UH seven years ago, said Maggard’s retirement came with mixed emotions.

‘Today is a tough day for me,’ Robinson said. ‘(Maggard) gave me an opportunity when no one else would. He helped mold me in so many ways professionally and as my mentor and as my friend.’

Despite its improvement, the men’s basketball program has fallen under scrutiny in the last few years. Robinson said he is pleased with the progress the program has made, but expressed a need for more development.

‘Men’s basketball is one of those programs that’s a mainstay here, so that’s another program that we have to continue to focus on,’ Robinson said.’

Robinson said he is considering entering the race for the new athletic director, but has not yet made any decisions.

‘I have thought a little bit about it,’ Robinson said. ‘My family and I will sit down and kind of assess where we are, but I’m just grateful for the opportunity.’

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