Powerade Party: Coach Kelvin Sampson celebrates shirtless after Cougars win over Illinois
University of Houston, Cougars Coach Kelvin Sampson could not keep calm when his team made its third consecutive March Madness Sweet 16 at the NCAA Tournament. Sampson who has been in charge of the Cougars since 2014 proudly holds a record of 198-69 with the team. The team defeated Illinois on Sunday, March 20.
Video from the locker room of the University of Houston showed Coach Sampson ripping off his shirt and throwing his hands up in the air, while the ecstatic team members doused their coach in water and center Josh Carlton dumped a large cooler of Powerade on him.
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NBA legend and analyst Charles Barkley said, "I don't know if I can unsee that." The 68-year old coach and the Cougars will compete against Arizona on Thursday, March 24. Last year, the Cougars advanced to the Final Four before they lost to Baylor.
How Sampson returned Houston to glory
Around 16 years ago, Sampson left Oklahoma due to a controversy. Sampson, 65, began his career at Montana Tech and Washington State in the 1980s and '90s. He got to Oklahoma in 1994 and chased the Sooners into a top-10 national program. Ironically, he left this for a job that would create even more controversy thanks to his history with breaking NCAA rules. In March 2021, Sampson marked his 1000th game as the head basketball coach in college. Sampson had a 19-year hiatus between Final Fours which is considered to be one of longest gaps in the history of college basketball.
In February 2008, Sampson took a $750,000 buyout and resigned from Indiana. While many thought this was farewell to Sampson's basketball coach career, he adapted and worked with Milwaukee Bucks for three years and Houston Rockets for another three. He received a five-year show cause, the punishment ranking among the biggest ever at the time for a former head coach.
Shirtless Kelvin Sampson was WILDIN' in the locker room 💦@UHCougarMBK #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/yVHrZlSnQE— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 20, 2022
Then in 2013, he ached to get back to college after the show cause lifted. But what school would take him? At the time his city of Houston needed someone powerful to turn things around. A source close to Sampson's family said, "He took the job because he wouldn't have to move. He was with the Houston Rockets. He liked the idea that you could recruit in Houston and be home for dinner. It was not a blue blood, so there wasn't huge pressure."
Coaching Houston became a family affair -- literally. His son, Kellen, joined the staff. His daughter, Lauren, became the director of external operations and soon Sampson brought in his former Sooner players -- Quannas White and Hollis Price. Sampson went from 13 wins in Year 1 to 27 by Year 4, which marked a long-awaited return to the NCAA Tournament -- for UH and for Sampson. In 1984 no one could have imagined Houston's drift into obscurity but Sampson who brought back Houston's glory days knows what living in obscurity means.
Fans of the game said, "What Kelvin has done for University of Houston basketball has been amazing. The sport was pretty much an afterthought for 2 decades and it took a lot of work on his part to convince the administration to put money into the program". One social media user had tweeted: We don’t give Kelvin Sampson’s work at Houston enough credit. More NCAA tournament wins in last 3 tournaments than Duke, Kentucky, and UNC. Only 3 behind Nova. Had multiple starters leave the program or get injured this year. The work he’s done has been phenomenal."
What Kelvin has done for University of Houston basketball has been amazing.— Thankful For What I Got (@Oclark38) March 20, 2022
The sport was pretty much an afterthought for 2 decades and it took a lot of work onhis part to convince the administration to put money into the program
The job Kelvin Sampson has done with @UHCougarMBK is remarkable. The program was rudderless. He has steered the program to being a constant national threat. The @Big12Conference is adding tremendous basketball value with the addition of Houston in two seasons.— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) March 20, 2022
We don’t give Kelvin Sampson’s work at Houston enough credit.— Adam Rosenberg (@HeyRosenberg) March 19, 2022
More NCAA tournament wins in last 3 tournaments than Duke, Kentucky, and UNC. Only 3 behind Nova.
Had multiple starters leave the program or get injured this year.
The work he’s done has been phenomenal. pic.twitter.com/YUBukDVawi