UPDATED 9:26 p.m. ET: In a press release, Houston has confirmed the hiring of interim head coach Tony Levine as its permanent head coach.
“I’m so pleased to be able to announce Tony Levine as our new head coach,” UH athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a statement. “Before we began this process we talked about the characteristics we wanted in the leader of our football program and Tony embodies each of those qualities. We spoke with former players, current student-athletes and interviewed some of the top football coaches in the country, and all of our talks led us right back to Tony.
“We consistently talk about building a program and building upon our culture here at UH and when you have the perfect fit right here on staff, you feel fortunate. But we still wanted to do our due diligence. We talked to some great folks, some people that are already outstanding Division I head coaches, but the best fit for UH is Tony Levine.”
“I’m both humbled and excited to have this opportunity to lead the Houston Football program and continue my work with our student-athletes and staff,” Levine said. “This is a dream come true for me and my family. We love Houston and I’m proud to say that Houston is our home. When you have the opportunity to lead a program, it has to be more than a job. Houston is a destination spot. Continuing to build this program is a personal challenge because this placemeans so much to us. We have new facilities on the horizon, we are heading into an AQ (Automatic Qualifying) conference, we have the vision and leadership of Mack Rhoades and President Khator and we have the best fans and student support in America. That’s why Houston is so special.”
An 11 a.m. ET press conference will be held Thursday to officially introduce Levine.
For just the second time since head-coaching jobs began opening up earlier this year — Toledo and Matt Campbell being the other — a school has stayed in-house to find its replacement.
As first reported by Sam Khan Jr. of the Houston Chronicle, and subsequently confirmed by CBS Sports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, Houston has hired special teams coordinator/assistant head coach Tony Levine as its new head coach. Khan reports that the Cougar players were informed of the school’s decision at a team meeting Wednesday evening.
Levine, the 39-year-old assistant who has been serving as UH’s interim head coach during bowl preparations, will replace Kevin Sumlin, who left for the Texas A&M job earlier this month.
The formal announcement from the school is expected on Thursday.
Levine was hired by Sumlin in 2008. Prior to that, Levine served as an assistant during stops at, among others, Louisville and Auburn at the collegiate level, as well as a two-year stint as a special teams coach with the Carolina Panthers.