Joe Curl is still the program's all-time wins leader with 193 career victories in 12 seasons at Houston
Joe Curl, the fifth head coach and winningest coach in program history, led the University of Houston women's basketball program for 12 seasons from 1998-2010. Curl finished with a 193-167 (.536) career mark at UH.
During his final season at UH, Curl lead the Cougars to a 17-15 record that saw the team finish in a tie for second in Conference USA with a 10-6 league mark. Houston was selected for the WNIT, to qualify for the postseason for the eighth time in program history and the fifth time under Curl. Following the season, junior forward Courtney Taylor was selected as the C-USA Player of the Year to become the fourth player during Curl's tenure to receive the honor.
On Feb. 28, 2009, as Curl's Cougars posted a road win over ECU, the UH floor general collected his 176th coaching win at the school, surpassing former coach Dot Woodbin for the most wins in program history. The milestone was not the only one for Curl during the 2008-09 campaign, as he also notched his 300th career coaching victory. The season was one of resurgence for Curl, who, after missing all of the previous year after suffering a heart attack, guided the Cougars to a 19-10 overall record and a tie for second in the Conference USA race with an 11-5 league mark.
During his time on the Cougar bench, UH made three WNIT appearances (2001, 2002, 2010), including a battle against Oregon for the 2002 Championship, and two NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, 2005).
He was named National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press, Basketball Times, USBWA, ESPN.com and C-USA following UH's record-setting 28-4 campaign in 2003-04.That year, UH won the C-USA regular season and tournament crowns, earning the Cougars a No. 3 seed in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
Former standout Chandi Jones (2000-04) was named the C-USA Female Athlete of the Decade. Jones is one of only five UH basketball players, male or female (Otis Birdsong, Clyde Drexler, Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon) to have their jersey retired.
Curl came on board following the 1997-98 season, which marked UH's sixth-straight season finishing with a .500 record or below. Although the program struggled in his first two seasons, earning a 5-22 (1-15 C-USA) mark in 1998-99 and a 7-21 (3-13 C-USA) finish during 1999-2000, Curl turned that into a 19-12 (10-6 C-USA) record during 2000-01.
That turnaround was cited as one of the biggest surprises in all of Division I women's basketball that season.
In addition to earning a trip to the postseason for the first time in nearly 10 years, the Cougars boasted a starting lineup which included four starters who averaged over 10 points per game, two All-C-USA selections (Chandi Jones, Monet Sykes) and the C-USA Freshman of the Year (Jones).
The Cougars increased their level of play under Curl's arrival, adding such national powerhouses as Alabama, Colorado, Duke, Georgia, Iowa, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Michigan State, Purdue, Texas, Texas Tech and Wisconsin to the schedule.
In addition to the improved level of academic responsibility by his athletes during his tenure years at Houston, community service by his players also became a major priority.
In 20 seasons as head coach at the collegiate level, Curl compiled a record of 331-252 (.554). He joined UH after two years as the men's coach at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. After a slow first year, Curl led the Blinn men to the playoffs in 1998.
As the women's head coach at Blinn from 1994-1996, Curl led four players to All-Conference honors and three earned All-Region selections while turning a .500 program into a 20-game winner. Prior to that, in 1993-94, he led the Stephen F. Austin women's team to the Southland Conference title and a bid in the NCAA tournament while picking up Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors along the way.
Before joining the staff at SFA, he coached the women's basketball team at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas, for three seasons and led the team to the Texas Eastern Conference Championship. At Trinity Valley CC, he coached five junior college All-Americans, 10 All-Region XIV players and 14 All-Conference selections. The Lady Cardinals were ranked No. 1 in the nation during the 1992-93 season, and Curl was twice named Conference Coach of the Year.
Curl earned a bachelor's degree from Wayne State in 1978 and a master's degree from the University of Central Oklahoma. An accomplished athlete in his own right, Curl lettered nine times in varsity high school sports, holds three records in track and was second in scoring and rebounding in the history of South Sioux City High School in his hometown of South Sioux City, Nebraska.
He and his wife, Lesa, have two daughters, Angela and Jennifer. Angela was a four-year letterwinner for the Cougars from 1998-2003, while Jennifer also is a UH graduate.