March 28, 2006
Houston - University of Houston athletics director Dave Maggard announced that men's basketball coach Tom Penders has been awarded a new five-year contract after Houston's highly successful 2005-06 season.
"We wanted to express our appreciation for the outstanding job Coach Penders has done over the last two years," Maggard said. "He is putting the University of Houston basketball program back on the map. We really feel good about what he has done and want to let our fans and recruits know it.
"We also want to emphasize the continuity we want in the basketball program and we want him to know that he is appreciated. We expect him to be here for a long time so we can get the program back to where it belongs."
Penders received the new contract after leading the Cougars to a 21-10 record and to the second round of the NIT. The 21 wins marks the first time Houston has won 20 games in a season since 1992-93 when UH had a 21-9 record under Pat Foster. The Cougars also won their first postseason tournament game since 1988, defeating BYU, 77-67, before ending the season with a 60-59 loss at Missouri State.
This year also marked the first time the Cougars have posted back-to-back winning seasons and played in consecutive postseason tournaments since 1992-93. In 2004-05, Houston had an 18-14 record and played in the NIT.
"This past year was outstanding," Maggard added. "To get 21 wins is not an easy thing to do, and it is another a building block to the foundation that is being established.
"We all felt that we were close to being a NCAA Tournament team after having beaten some good teams that are in the tournament, including one Final Four team this year.
"Tom and his staff are re-laying the foundation of a program that already was once a national power. This year's team had included new and young people who learned to play an exciting brand of basketball. Now, I look for us to become even more of a national power as we move ahead."
During the past two seasons, Houston has beaten three nationally-ranked teams, and is one of four schools to have beaten a team that has played in each of the last two NCAA Final Fours.
The three wins over nationally-ranked teams were against then 16th-ranked Louisville, 70-66, on January 5, 2005, 25th-ranked LSU, 84-83, in Baton Rouge on November 29, 2005, and 13th-ranked Arizona, 69-65, on December 3, 2005. The win over Louisville marked the first time the Cougars had beaten a nationally-ranked team since December 21, 1996.
The two wins over the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Final Four teams were against Louisville and LSU, respectively. The only other schools to accomplish the feat were Memphis, Ohio State and Wake Forest.
Penders completed his 32nd season as a collegiate head coach and ranks among the Top-10 Active NCAA Division I coaches with 566 wins. He has compiled a 566-385 career record while coaching at Tufts, Columbia, Fordham, Rhode Island, Texas, George Washington and Houston.
Penders is the seventh head men's basketball coach in Houston's school history, having succeeded Ray McCallum on March 22, 2004.
In addition to giving Penders a new contract, Maggard also announced the associate head coach and recruiting director Melvin Haralson will receive a two-year contract. Haralson completed his sixth season at Houston in 2005-06, his second as an associate head coach, and also served under Penders at Texas from 1990-95.