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Chris Pezman relieved of duties

After presiding over probably the biggest season of change in the history of University of Houston athletics, Athletic Director Chris Pezman was relieved of his duties late Thursday afternoon. As was told to Sidelines Houston and then later confirmed by Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle, the reasoning for this change was based on the lack of success in raising funds and securing corporate sponsorships for the department. A nationwide search for Pezman’s replacement is now underway.

Pezman returned to his college stomping ground in December of 2017 and no one could have possibly known the amount of change that would come not only to the University but to the entire landscape of college athletics during his tenure. 

It is hard to really say Pezman’s term was a smashing success and it is equally as hard to say his term was an absolute disaster…it falls in between the two. On the one hand he oversaw a successful transition into a Power 5, now a Power 4, conference from a department standpoint. He also secured the hire of Willie Fritz, which so far has been a breath of fresh air. The biggest sport that showed improvement directly because of a hire he made has been Volleyball where he absolutely nailed the hire of Coach David Rehr

On the other hand he gave Dana Holgorsen an insane extension that was not warranted. Yes, Dana had an amazing season and our entry into a P5 meant a new contract had to be negotiated, but the length and money was over the top and now the department is hamstrung having to pay his huge monthly buyout. Pezman also did not want to seem to rock the boat and make hard personnel decisions. Giving Coach Todd Whitting an extension was a head scratching choice when it was announced and is even more so after this past season. Not making a change in women’s basketball has also been a confusing note as this program is far behind it’s counterpart in the same building. 

Another big downside was the lack of forward thinking when it came to marketing and merchandise. The obvious example is the “Love Ya Coog” jerseys from last year. They literally broke college football X. Schools and fanbases that won’t look in our general direction took notice and said wow they nailed that. The school set record breaking merchandise records by selling out all the…

Oh wait what? They didn’t have any merchandise for sale? Not a single tshirt or hat or polo?

This is the type of thing that cannot happen in today’s world.

The position of a college athletic director is becoming more like that of a general manager for a professional sports team by the minute. It is not secret, as Pezman has talked frequently about this subject, that the department needs to find new revenue streams and maximize the ones they have. As an outsider, the lack of big name corporate sponsorships has been noticeable. These companies can and need to fill the gap of big time boosters other schools have that we might not yet. How there hasn’t been more nailed down with basketball alone is confusing to say the least. But when you think of “Love Ya Coog" maybe it isn’t.

The one thing that is certain about Pezman’s term? He loved the University of Houston. His passion on the sidelines, in interviews and after March Madness games was obvious and genuine. Hopefully once the fresh wounds heal and scar over he will find his way back to Cullen and enjoy what his alma mater has become.

The next leader will need to be a forward thinker who can adapt easy to the ever changing landscape of college athletics. Does the school go the more traditional route and find someone experienced in college athletics? Or does Dr. Khator go outside the box and find a Brett Yormark type hire? Whoever she goes with, the decision will need to be made quickly as Big 12 media days are less than 3 weeks away and having someone secured by then would open the door to be able to make a big splash in Vegas.

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