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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Staff Editorial

Sumlin’s contract a good move but far from last step


Football coach Kevin Sumlin kept his commitment to the University by spurning potential job offers from bigger programs after the Cougars’ season ended.

The University returned the favor in a big way, rewarding Sumlin with a new six-year contract that will pay him $6.8 million in base compensation. The deal was announced Monday and is pending approval from the UH System Board of Regents, which is expected to sign off on the contract at a special meeting on Friday.

Sumlin’s contract is another solid step forward in the University’s quest to produce a football program that can compete for national prominence and elevate the stature of its athletics program over the next several years. The deal also should make Sumlin think a little harder about sticking around when other programs with head coach vacancies come calling next winter.

But, as the administration surely knows, this is somewhat of a small step in the grand scheme of the situation. A lot more work remains before UH can begin making serious strides toward joining a major conference.

One major issue to resolve is the future of Robertson Stadium. The University has plans to upgrade the aging facility but hasn’t decided how to proceed. The school could decide to renovate Robertson or build a new facility.

Either way, the University has to upgrade its facilities to make its athletics program more attractive to big-time recruits and major conferences. It also would help if other premier sports, such as men’s basketball, won Conference USA championships and went to the postseason on a more consistent basis.

Fans and alumni also have to play a role, too. After all, major conferences aren’t going to give much thought to a program that struggles with attendance in nearly every sport, especially football.

Give credit to the University. UH President Renu Khator has made a commitment to improving the school’s athletics program, and fans seem to be a little more enthusiastic than they’ve been in previous years.

That enthusiasm should bode well as the University prepares to make even bolder steps to elevate its athletics program.


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