Arrested Development: On and Off Field Issues Plague UH Athletics

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The University of Houston looks nice, shiny and new when viewed from the outside. There's a new stadium being constructed, additions being made to the University Center. New buildings dominate the rapidly expanding perimeter of the campus. Enrollment is up. Admission standards are up. It's a Tier One university.

But there's the uncontrolled sprawl. The pothole-filled streets surrounding the campus. The never-ending destruction of Scott Street for the light rail. The lack of available parking for students and visitors. The eyesores that are Agnes Arnold Hall and Philip Guthrie Hoffman are still in massive use. The English Department TAs are underpaid. It's as if the school is a Bluth Company development and the shaky foundation and iffy internet service are just now being discovered.

Take the Athletic Department. A glorious new stadium is arising from the ashes. There's the move to the American Athletic Conference. There's a brand-new women's golf team, and continued improvement for the tennis and men's golf teams. There's the brand-new uniforms. It's all nice and shiny on the outside.

But the football team just suffered the defection of its star running back, and the school has yet to find a stadium for two home games. Hofheinz Pavilion is a dump, and the men's basketball team is engulfed in turmoil with the departure of three players, including the team's leading scorer. Cougar legend Michael Young just had an ugly divorce from the school. The shiny new conference is just another version of Conference USA, and the contract of Tom Franklin, the popular voice of UH football and basketball, was not renewed.

This past year has not been a good one for the big sports. A year after going 13-1 and being on the verge of a BCS Bowl, the football team fell apart. New coach Tony Levine replaced his offensive coordinator after a disappointing game one loss. QB David Piland played like a deer in the highlights and was an interception machine. There was the tragic injury of defensive back D.J. Hayden and continuing injuries throughout the roster.

Now star running back Charles Sims has departed the team, seeking to improve his draft stock by playing for another team (it appears that Sims may also have been the victim of poor advisers). Sims has graduated from UH, and NCAA rules allow graduate students to transfer to other schools and play without sitting out a year if the school allows it -- UH has agreed that Sims can leave as long as he doesn't play for another team in Texas, a conference foe or a team on the UH schedule.

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