r irst Athletic Director Harry Fouke put UH in
the map. Besides bringing our teams to the Southwest Conference and hiring many of our most
successful coaches. Fouke was the first Golf Coach
at UH. Here Fouke. far right, seated, discusses
plans with Publicity Director Ted Nance and
secretary Margret Standard. Houstonian file
photo, (top center)
Wilson Whitley (number 78) prepares to take
on a Maryland quarterback, in Houston's first
Cotton Bowl, way back in 1977. Wilson was
named the Southwest Conference's defensive
player of the decade, although he played in the
SWC for just one year. Houstonian file photo
Liombardi Trophy winner Wilson Whitley was
one of the key ingredients to a victorious season
in 1976. He and coach Bill Yeoman took the
Cougars to the Cotton Bowl their first year in the
Southwest Conference, surprising many. Whitley
died of a hart attack in 1992, he was 37. Photo
courtesy Sports Information (below)
UH's legendary athletic
died at age 78 after a long
Former UH Athletic Director Harry Fouke started his
tenure in 1945 as the first AD in
Four decades later,
Fouke retired in 1979 as the most
remembered individual in the
school's rise to prominence in
the sporting world.
His list of achievements
•Led UH into the Lone
Star Conference (1946), the Gulf
Coast Conference (1949), the
Missouri Valley Conference
(1951), as an independent from
1960-75, and into the Southwest
Conference in 1976.
from Rice stadium in 1966 to the
Astrodome. The move distinguished Houston as the first college team to play indoors on artificial turf.
• Hired four of UH's most
successful coaches: basketball
coach Guy V. Lewis, football
coach Bill Yeoman, golf coach
Dave Williams and track coach
• Put UH on the national
Basketball scene by scheduling
the "Game of the Century" in
1968 between Houston and
UCLA in the Astrodome. The
Cougars were successful in the
contest that pitted Elvin Hayes
against Lew Alcindor (now
Fouke graduated from
Rice University in 1935. In that
'35 season, he helped the Owls
win the SWC football championship as a halfback. He also won
the school's highest scholar-athlete honor, the Bob Quin Award.
Because of his service,
UH named the athletic office
building after Fouke. He was also
named to the University of Houston Hall of Honor and was recognized as Mr. Sportsman by the
City of Houston.-Keith Rollins
UH loses two of Ihe best
TLe year was 1976. The
Cougar football team
had amassed a dismal
2-8 record the year before.
Houston had just entered a
tough Southwest Conference
League and the season was
bleak from everyone's standpoint, but one.
Wilson Whitley, already a three-year letterman
on the squad, stood up before
the teams after spring training
one day. Everyone grew silent
out of respect for the huge defensive lineman.
"He said that this was
going to be the best year the
University of Houston has ever
had, we are going to put the
Houston Cougars on the map,"
Danny Davis, the quarterback
in 1976, said.
A Cougar legend was
Whitley eclipsed all
expectations. He won the most
prestigious award given to a
defensive player, the Lombardi
"Everyone knew that
Wilson was the best player in
college football that year. The
reason why I played at the
University of Houston was so I
didn't have to play against Wilson Whitley," Davis said.
Although he was portrayed as a "wild man on the
field, off the field he didn't
show it. He was caring and
would listen to problems,:
Whitley led a defense
that year which helped the
Cougars to their first Cotton
Bowl victory over Maryland.
Before the game, the undefeated
Terrapins had already drawn
up plans for their national
championship rings. Whitley
was instrumental in changing
He was also named—
opposite Earl Campbell—as the
SWC Defensive Player of the
Decade in the' 70s, despite playing only one year in the conference.
Whitley went on to play
six years in the NFL for the
Cincinnati Bengals and one for
the Houston Oilers. He started
all 16 games in the Bengals' '81
season which ended in a loss to
the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI.
Whitley retired from
football in 1983.
On October 25, 1993,
the 3 7-year old Whitley died of
a heart attack. He was survived
by his wife Norma and daughters Wynter and Jordan.
In his memory, the Athletic Department announced
the establishment of the Wilson Whitley Memorial Scholarship Fund.
After his last season as
a Cougar, Whitley wanted to
keep in touch with his teammates.
He spearheaded the
start of the Spirit of '76, an
informal club that would attend Cougar football games and
participate in alumni functions.
The club was still intact, and Davis said, "it will
continue in the spirit of Wilson Whitley as their leader. "-