May 20, 2014
HOUSTON - The University of Houston Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades announced a new five-year agreement with head football coach Tony Levine on Tuesday.
Levine, who enters his third year as head coach at Houston and his seventh season with the program, has agreed with the University on a contract that will keep him with UH through the 2018 season. The new agreement replaces the original five-year agreement with Levine signed prior to the 2012 season.
"We are pleased Coach Levine has agreed to a new five-year agreement. Under Tony's leadership, our football program's on-field accolades and performances have continued the upward rise of our program while it has experienced some of its best academic achievements in program history," Rhoades said. "Likewise, Coach Levine's staff continues to recruit and sign outstanding young men and develop them into leaders, on the field and off. As a result, he has assembled a talented young team with a very bright future. As we continue to build our football program, it is important we maintain stability and show Coach Levine we appreciate all of his efforts."
The 2013 season saw Houston return to a bowl game for the 22nd time in program history as the Cougars faced Vanderbilt in the 2014 BBVA Compass Bowl. Playing the toughest schedule in program history in terms of opponents' wins (94), Houston led the nation in turnovers forced (43) and turnover margin (+25) to finish the year 8-5, its 19th season with eight or more wins.
"I am very humbled by the opportunity to lead the University of Houston football program. I'm also very appreciative of and thankful for the commitment shown by our University and its administration as we continue to grow and elevate our football program. I am very proud of our student-athletes and staff, and how they have represented our University both on and off the field," Levine said. "With our Tier One academic program and the new stadium, we have a very positive outlook for our program's long-term success. Houston is home for my family and me, and we look forward to many more years of making great memories here. "
Under Levine's leadership, seven student-athletes from the Houston program earned American Athletic Conference honors in 2013 including then-true freshmen Demarcus Ayers and John O'Korn being named the league's Co-Special Teams Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, respectively.
The Houston defense was the nation's third-most improved defense in scoring defense, dropping 14.2 points per game from its 2012 average, while the Houston offense ranked among the league leaders in scoring offense with an average of 33.2 points per game. On special teams, senior Richie Leone earned second-team All-America honors as punter while Ayers led the league in average kickoff returns, ranking 12th nationally.
Academically the 2013 squad posted its third-highest overall spring grade point average and is currently at its highest cumulative GPA following a spring semester.
Twenty-eight full or part-time starters return in 2014 for Houston including the 2013 leader in every major statistical category, outside of punting and field goals (Leone).
Introduced as the 12th head coach in Houston history on Dec. 22, 2011, Levine made an emphatic national statement in his opening game as the UH head coach, belting No. 22 Penn State, 30-14, in the 2012 TicketCity Bowl.
Levine took over at UH two weeks before that Jan. 2 bowl contest in Dallas and unveiled a prepared squad that held Penn State to just two scores and produced a Cotton Bowl Stadium record 532 yards of passing vs. the nation's No. 4-ranked pass defense. The victory helped UH to a school-record 13th win (tops in the nation) and first January bowl victory since the 1979 campaign. Levine led the Cougars to an end-of-season national ranking for the first time since 1990 and was the first UH head coach to open his career with a win vs. a nationally-ranked opponent since Harold Lahar in 1957.
Prior to taking over the Houston program, Levine spent four seasons on the UH staff, the first two season as an assistant coach overseeing the program's special teams, inside receivers and tight ends before being elevated to assistant head coach while continuing to oversee special teams, inside receivers and tight ends for the next two seasons.During Levine's tenure at UH, the special teams units has reached unprecedented heights, highlighted by 20 blocked kicks and nine kickoff returns for touchdowns. The groups have also tied or broken seven NCAA records while setting 11 school marks.
2014 FOOTBALL SEASON TICKETS
Houston fans can guarantee a place in history by purchasing season tickets for the first ever season in the new Houston Football Stadium. General admission season tickets are currently on sale for only $140 as are Memorial Hermann Family Plan four-pack season tickets for just $299.
For those interested in purchasing 2014 reserved season tickets, fans may place a $200 season ticket deposit at UHCougars.com that will give access to participate in a 24-hour Select-A-Seat process in May. The $200 deposit is not a fee and will go towards the cost of season tickets. Lower level reserved season tickets begin at just $200.
University of Houston alumni from the last five years (2010-14) can purchase season tickets for just $125 (upper levels) and $175 (lower level) in specially-designated Young Alumni sections with a multiplier of four times donations to Cougar Pride giving levels for the first five years after graduation.
Houston opens the 2014 season at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 29, when it hosts UTSA in the first ever game in the Houston Football Stadium.