Quotes from Men's Basketball Press Conference
April 1, 2010
UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT PRESS CONFERENCE
Before I say anything, let me introduce our regents that are here to show support to athletics. Board vice president Jim Wise, chairwoman of academic affairs Carroll Ray and board member Nandita Berry.
I'm very proud of this day. I want to welcome Coach James Dickey and his family. I also want you to know that every single reference we had on Coach Dickey was absolutely glowing. He had so much praise on his personal integrity and his professional competence. I want you to know that Coach Dickey took a losing team and took them to the Sweet 16. His journey to the Final Four was abruptly ended due to some unfortunate circumstances. So I know there is some unfinished business that Coach Dickey has to complete.
We are a University that has a proud athletics program including basketball. We are in a great city, at a great location, and we want all these factors to come together. So we are here supporting you and looking forward to a great season, a winning season, but we want you to know, winning is very, very important to us.
What is equally important is for our student-athletes to be in the classroom. I want them to get the degree they came here to get, and I want them to win in life. I know you can recruit, and I know you can make them great inside and outside of the classroom.
I want everyone else to know more about Coach Dickey from the man who knows even more about him than I do, Mack Rhoades. A few months ago I was here with Mack Rhoades, and I told him that the reason I hired him was for his values and integrity. I absolutely stand here and support his decision with Coach Dickey and am in full anticipation of having a phenomenal winning basketball team."
HOUSTON DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS MACK RHOADES
"Good afternoon. We do apologize for keeping everyone waiting. We had a great meeting with our current players before we came out here. And to all of you on the basketball team in the audience, congratulations; you did a great job.
I do want to recognize and say hello to my wife, Amy. I haven't seen her in about 10 days. I also have my parents here. They came to spend time with my children and wife over the Easter break, and it's a good thing they like my wife Amy and my children more than me because I've been working the whole time.
This is about the University of Houston men's basketball team and moving forward. And that's a great task. That's an unbelievable task when you talk about the unreal tradition that we have here. We have three of the top 50 players that have played in the NBA here at the University of Houston.
When we went out and we looked for a coach, we took that into consideration, and we took that seriously. We're going to build this program. We're going to build it step by step, and we're going to build it the right way. When we started this journey, nine or 10 days ago, we wanted somebody that, No. 1, really valued this job, that really saw it for what it was, someone with fire under his belt, somebody that would do whatever it took to get the job done. We've accomplished that.
We wanted someone with high character, high class and integrity because we will never compromise that. We've done the job. We have to play games. There's no question about that. But equally important is developing our young men. We wanted someone who is a great mentor. There are going to be a lot of student-athletes that are going to need someone to count on. It's going to be demanding; it's going to be level; it's going to be fair; it's going to make them better than they've ever been before. On the floor, there's no better teacher for player development than the man we've hired for the University of Houston.
We wanted somebody that's a hard worker. We know our flaws, and we've had some flaws. We wanted somebody that understood those, someone who could come in and roll up his sleeves, get in the trenches with us and be a part of it, and again, build this brick by brick, piece by piece. We've accomplished that.
And finally, we wanted somebody that was a great coach, that could win and could win the right way and at a high level. We talked to more people than I can tell you in the industry and in the coaching profession about Coach Dickey's abilities, and here's what they told us: you'll never get out-coached; no one will ever make your players any better than this man, and he's an unbelievable recruiter. You don't coach 22 NBA players without being an unbelievable recruiter.
But most of all, I go back to the fact that we wanted a leader of men, and we have him. I want to welcome Coach Dickey. I want to welcome his wife, Bettye, his daughter Laura, his son Jared, to our family, and it is with great pleasure and pride that I announce Coach James Dickey as our new men's basketball coach."
May I ask, is this the famous Cougar Brass; the best pep band in college basketball? We want to give you a team and a Hofheinz crowd that is filled so that you will be absolutely the best band in college basketball in the country.
I can remember the first time I walked down the aisle at Hofheinz Pavilion and you hear about the great crowds and I got to coach at Arkansas at that time. I remember the players; it was during the Phi Slama Jama days. Actually, I think some of those guys are here today. I want to get Maria (Peden), our academic advisor to see if they have any eligibility left.
To the Board of Regents, thank you so much for this opportunity. I really appreciate you being here today, and I'm looking forward to working with you.
Chancellor Khator, it's been such an honor and pleasure to meet you. I've heard so many great things about you, and I've learned over the last few days what an outstanding vision you have for this university and how much pride you take in the faculty, the staff and the students. She places so much emphasis on academics and excellence in not only student-athletes but all students and also in the interest and support she shows in athletics. I'm really looking forward to working for you and with you. Thank you so much.
Mack (Rhoades) has been so professional in this process, so straightforward, so honest, and so enthusiastic with great leadership in the athletic program and in the basketball program. He has been tremendous. I want to recognize his senior associate athletics director Darren Dunn as well. I can tell you, even if I wasn't standing here today, what positive meetings we had. They are such great representatives here at the University of Houston. And if you will, for our Board of Regents, our chancellors, our athletic administration along with the senior staff, let's give them a round of applause.
I just had the opportunity to meet with the team. I congratulated them. They did well at the Conference USA Championship in Tulsa. I was able to watch them. My brother is on the coaching staff at UTEP. That was a tremendous performance by the team, and I complimented the players, and I told them there's no place like being in a tournament in March, so let's get there again next year.
I certainly want to recognize Coach (Guy V.) Lewis because I am so honored and humbled to be here and be a part of this storybook program, of the rich tradition, of great players. I hope I get a chance to see Coach Lewis. I coached against him and have great respect for him. When you look at his numbers - 592 wins, five NCAA Final Fours, two NCAA National Runners-Up, numerous conference tournament and conference championship wins and an unbelievable amount of great players. Those numbers are Hall of Fame numbers. I wish him the best, and I look forward to seeing him. It's truly an honor to walk on the court where he worked the sidelines.
There are so many great people who have made this program what it is, and I want to tell you why I so badly wanted this opportunity. No. 1, because of the great tradition, the players, and the coaches who have made this a team we are going to enjoy for years to come.
No. 2, because of the administration, the chancellor, the athletic director, the associate athletic director, who I will not only work for but I will work with. We will be great partners working to develop this program to a level you want.
And the last thing, the reason I really want to be here is because I know we can win big, and that's important to me. We want to win and win big. It's going to take great players that come before us.
Our goal, first and foremost is to recruit out of the Houston and Greater Houston areas. There are so many great players in this area, and it's time for some of those guys to stay here. Not only do we want to recruit to our basketball players, we want to recruit to their families. We want them to come here and leave with a degree; we think that's very important. We want to recruit guys that are good enough to play at the next level.
We want to be on track academically. We're going to place a tremendous amount not only on athletics but athletes that want to get a degree. There are great students at this University, but they can also help us win championships. Our priorities are to take care of the players that are here. They are the most important piece of the puzzle; they're going to be our best recruiters. When we bring a young man on campus, we want them to help sell this program.
This is a fabulous campus, there are wonderful people, and we want to fill Hofheinz (Pavilion). That place is electric. It was so difficult when I worked for Arkansas to come in here and play because of the great talent and because of the fans that showed their love for the University. I'm looking forward to building it back to that level as soon as I can.
My philosophy is pretty simple. We're going to recruit great basketball players that win championships and our student-athletes are going to understand our priorities. Our home is going to be open to them as much as it can under the NCAA guidelines. Our office doors are always going to be open, and the players are going to be the most important part of this program.
For us to get this done, it has to be a team effort. We're going to need the administration, the faculty, the staff. We're going to need the student body. We're going to need alumni. We're going to need the fans. We're going to need the former players. We have got to be a team. I want all the players here to know that this is your program that you helped build. I want you to be an important part of the University of Houston Cougars basketball team.
And we certainly are going to do everything we can to reach out to you. We want the alumni to take our message of what we believe and spread it. It's important to work with all the former players; all the former coaches because you helped pave the way. This is a special place, a special University and I am very honored and very proud to be your coach. Go Coogs!"