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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Sports

Leroy Burrell leaving UH track and field to coach Auburn


Leroy Burrell elevated the UH track and field program to another level during his 23 years as head coach. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Leroy Burrell elevated the UH track and field program to another level during his 23 years as head coach. | Courtesy of UH athletics

After 23 years of serving as head coach of the UH track and field program, Leroy Burrell is stepping away after accepting the job to take over Auburn’s track and field program.

Burrell, a former UH track star and world-record holder in the 100-meter dash, led the Cougars to great heights during his time at UH, including coaching 11 Olympians, 15 NCAA champions, 254 All-Americans and leading the program to 44 combined conference titles. Burrell was also named the Conference Coach of the Year 37 times during his tenure at UH.

In August 2021, Burrell’s son Cameron, a star sprinter for UH from 2013 to 2018, died by suicide at 26. The loss of his son caused immense pain to Burrell and made it hard for him to coach to his full capability for the remainder of the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons.

Before August last year, my intention was to continue to lead the program, but that all changed when I lost my son, Cameron, on Aug. 9, 2021,” Burrell said. “It was difficult for me to return, but with time and everyone’s support, I was able to function well enough to return in a limited role.  In reality, I returned, but I have not quite been the same leader that I was.”

Burrell knew he wanted to remain in track and field but didn’t know if staying at UH was the best option for him because it reminded him daily of the loss of his son.

My only goal was to support the student-athletes because they really became all that mattered,” Burrell said. All the while I prayed to either return to being myself or for a door to open to allow me to do something else.

After spending lots of time praying and talking with his family about his future, Burrell was offered the head coaching job at Auburn and knew this was the fresh start he needed.

The opportunity at Auburn is exactly the door I’d prayed for because it provides me an opportunity to wipe my slate clean and jumpstart my career without the daily reminder of losing my son, Burrell said.

Burrell expressed his immense gratitude to the University and Cougars fans for all the support he and the program received during his time as both a student-athlete and coach.

My time on Cullen Boulevard has come to an end but rest assured that, whatever God has in store for me and my family, I will bleed Cougar red,” Burrell said. Farewell Cougar Nation and Go Coogs!

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