HOUSTON — Robeson County native Kelvin Sampson is headed back to college basketball.
Sampson, who is currently a top assistant with the NBA’s Houston Rockets, will become the new head coach at the University of Houston. He will be introduced at a press conference today.
Sampson, who was a star at Pembroke High School and then-Pembroke State in the 1970s, has been coaching in the NBA for the last six years.
His most recent college coaching job was at Indiana University, where he led the Hoosiers to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The stint ended in Feb. 2008 when he was forced to resign due to allegations of rule violations.
Prior to that he spent 12 years at Oklahoma, which included eight 20-win seasons, 11 NCAA tournament berths and a Final Four appearance in 2002. He was also named the national coach of the year in 1995.
He received a five-year show cause order from the NCAA in 2008 after violations regarding impermissible calls to recruits at both Oklahoma and Indiana, which effectively barred him from coaching in college. That order expired in 2013.
Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades said the school is not worried about his past issues.
“As we conducted our search, we spoke with many people who employed, worked with and worked for Kelvin Sampson at his previous institutions as well as current and former NCAA officials,” Rhoades said. “Those reviews were extremely encouraging and, in multiple meetings with Kelvin, he was candid and completely transparent about his mistakes in the past. Coach Sampson is committed to leading a first-class program in all areas and is excited to return to the college game.”
The Cougars went 17-16 last season and beat Southern Methodist in the American Athletic Conference tournament before being eliminated by Louisville.
He replaces James Dickey, who stepped down last month citing family matters.