Leroy Burrell enters his 18th season as head coach at the University of Houston. A former world record holder in the 100 meters and a former student-athlete, Burrell is one of the nation's premier coaches. In over a decade of Burrell's leadership, Houston has added 64 NCAA All-Americans and a combined 27 Conference USA Team Championships to the record books. He has been named C-USA Coach of the Year 23 times. In recognition of his outstanding career as a world-class sprinter and collegiate coach, Burrell was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Burrell claimed Houston’s first American Athletic Conference Indoor Championship in 2015 with a dramatic victory in the final event, the men’s 4x400m relay. In the outdoor season, Burrell coached 15 student-athletes to the NCAA West Regional in the outdoor season and saw three of thoes student-athletes make the NCAA Outdoor Championships as well as two relay squads. Burrell led Issac Williams to a third-place finish in the 110M Hurdles at nationals.
In 2014-15 Burrell led the Cougar men's team to its first American Athletic Conference indoor championship and his 29th team Conference championship. Burrell coached junior Issac Williams to a third place finish and NCAA First Team All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 110m hurdles. The Cougars earned 13 NCAA All-America honors during the 2014-15 season and nine individual American Athletic Conference Championships.
Last season, Burrell tutored Errol Nolan to a 2013 NCAA Indoor Championship in the 400-meter dash. Nolan was the C-USA Track Athlete of the Year for the indoor season. Burrell also had 13 individuals win conference championships and the men's team took home the 2013 C-USA Indoor Conference Championship.
In his first season, he coached the C-USA Indoor and Outdoor Athletes of the Year, Anthony Authorlee and Dennis Darling. Authorlee was named the 1999 C-USA Outdoor Athlete of the Year after winning the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. His victory marked the first time that the Cougars had a conference 100-meter champion since 1993.
Darling was named the 1999 C-USA Indoor Athlete of the Year after winning the 200 meters and 400 meters. He also ran the anchor leg on Houston's victorious 4x400 meter relay. Houston also enjoyed success on the national frontier that season, when the women's team ended the 1999 campaign with a 20th place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Meet.
In 2000, Burrell guided Houston to the C-USA Men's Indoor and Outdoor Championships for a second straight year. He coached the C-USA Freshman of the Year, Robert Foster, who won the 200-meter dash at the C-USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships.
Burrell was named the C-USA Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year in 2000 after leading the women's team to their first conference championship under his direction. Houston won the C-USA women's outdoor title after finishing as the runner-up team at the C-USA Indoor meet.
Later that year, the women's team finished in eighth place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Jenny Adams won the NCAA long jump title and finished as the runner-up in the 100 meters. Ifoma Jones had a fourth-place finish in the heptathlon and finished seventh in the high jump. Rhian Clarke also had a seventh-place finish in the pole vault.
In 2001, the women's team finished in seventh place at the NCAA Indoor Championships, as Adams became Houston's first two-time NCAA champion since 1989 when she won the long jump. She also finished in third place in the 60-meter hurdles to close out her collegiate career.
The seventh place finish was Houston's best placing since the 1993 indoor championships and the eighth-place finish at the 2000 outdoor meet equaled Houston's best NCAA outdoor showing in the school's history. Later that year, Foster became the first UH sprinter to qualify for the 100 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since Sam Jefferson who was the 1993 NCAA 100 meters champion.
Burrell first gained track and field's national spotlight when he earned All-America honors as a senior at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa. in 1985. He was named the Eastern Track Athlete of the Year after single-handedly winning the 1985 Class 3A state championship. Burrell scored all of Penn Wood's 40 points when he won the 100, 200, long jump and triple jump at the state meet.
In 1985-86, he broke Houston's freshman long jump record that was held by Carl Lewis, when he leaped 26'9" at a dual meet against UCLA in 1986. Later that season, he faced one of the most challenging moments of his track career.
After jumping 26' 7.25" in the preliminaries of the 1986 Southwest Conference Outdoor Championships, Burrell jumped almost 27 feet before landing awkwardly on his third jump. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He finished second at the meet, but many people feared the injury could be career ending.
In 1988, he returned to the SWC Championships, where he finished second in the 100 meters and in third-place in the long jump. At the NCAA Championships, Burrell earned All-America honors with a fifth-place finish in the 100 meters and a seventh-place showing in the long jump.
The next year, he won the NCAA Indoor Long Jump Championship with a leap of 26' 5.50". At the NCAA Outdoor meet, he set the NCAA outdoor meet record with a personal best jump of 27' 5.50". But, Ohio State's Joe Greene recorded a wind-aided mark of 27' 7.25" to win the event, and left Burrell with a record-setting second-place finish.
Two weeks later, Burrell rebounded at the USA Outdoor Championships at Houston's Robertson Stadium. He won the 100 meters in 9.94 seconds, which was the fastest time ever recorded by a collegian. He also teamed with Carl Lewis, Danny Everett and current UH assistant coach Floyd Heard to set a world record in the 4x200 meter relay with a time of 1:19.38.
As a senior in 1990, Burrell won the NCAA Indoor Long Jump title for the second straight year with a leap of 27 feet. At the SWC Outdoor Championships, Burrell ran one of the best sprint doubles ever recorded. He ran the fastest 200 meters ever run under any conditions with a windaided time of 19.61 and ran a wind-aided 9.94 time in the 100 meters to easily win both races.
He also won the 100 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Durham, N.C., when he posted a wind-aided time of 9.94 seconds. He set the NCAA meet record in the semifinals in 10.03 seconds. His outstanding season resulted in Burrell receiving the "Jumbo Elliott Award" as the nation's top collegiate track and field athlete.
After completing his collegiate eligibility, Burrell beat Carl Lewis for the first time on July 23, 1990, when he won the 100 meters in 10.05 seconds at the Goodwill Games in Seattle. He was ranked as the world's top sprinter in 1990 and 1991 after winning 19 of his 22 races in the 100 meters.
Burrell set his first individual 100 meter world record on June 14, 1991, at the USA Championships in New York City. With a time of 9.90 seconds in the 100 meters, he edged Lewis, who finished second with a time of 9.92. Later that year at the World Championships in Tokyo, Burrell bettered his time to 9.88; however, he was forced to settle for the Silver Medal as Lewis won the race in a record time of 9.86.
Burrell and Lewis joined forces in the 1992 Olympic Games at Barcelona, Spain, when they combined with Mike Marsh and Dennis Mitchell to win the gold medal and set a new world record with a time of 37.40 seconds. Burrell also had a fifth-place finish in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games.
In 1993, Burrell ran the anchor leg for the USA's 4x100-meter relay team at the World Championships. The team won another Gold Medal and tied the world record.
In 1994, Burrell was a member of the Santa Monica track team that set the world record in the 4x200 meter relay in 1:18.68. On July 6, 1994, Burrell reclaimed the title as the "World's Fastest Human" when he reset his world record time in the 100 meters with a time of 9.85 seconds.
In 1996, he earned a spot on the USA Olympic Team, but was forced to withdraw because of an Achilles tendon injury.
Two years later, he announced his retirement as the American record holder in the 100 meters and was selected to succeed his collegiate coach and USTCA Hall of Fame coach Tom Tellez.
A 1991 UH graduate with a degree in radio and television communications, Burrell was inducted into UH's Hall of Honor in 2000.
He is married to the former Michelle Finn, an Olympic sprinter. His son, Cameron, is now a freshman at the University of Houston and is a member of the track and field team. The couple and their family live in Houston.