Longtime head coach, Olympic gold medalist Leroy Burrell leaving UH track & field for Auburn

Burrell was Houston’s head coach for 23 years

UH track and field coach Leroy Burrell, once known as the world's fastest man, talks about his career. (KPRC)

Auburn University has announced the hiring of Olympic gold medalist Leroy Burrell as the Tigers’ new track & field head coach after 23 years as the head coach at the University of Houston.

In his time as Cougars’ head coach, Burrell helped lead UH to 41 conference championships and coached over 150 All-Americans.

Before his time as coach, Burrell was a star sprinter, having once owned the world record in the 100-meter dash and having won both Olympic gold and World Championships gold. Burrell also excelled as a long jumper in college as the winner of the NCAA Indoor Championships in the event in 1990. A 1991 graduate of the University of Houston, Burrell was inducted into the UH Hall of Honor in 2000.

“When I looked at the history and tradition at Auburn along with the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the Southeastern Conference, the opportunity at this juncture of my career was too good to pass up,” Burrell said in an Auburn press release. “I’ve had a wonderful run at Houston and had some struggles the past year. I felt my family and I needed another opportunity to win a national championship and compete at the highest level. I’m not sure I could have found a better opportunity and words can’t describe how excited I am to join the Auburn Family and work with the people at Auburn.”

The struggles that Burrell referred to include the loss last August of his son Cameron, who was also a former track star at the University of Houston.

“Houston has been my home for 36 years. I came as a freshman in 1985 and it grew me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my teammates and training partner Carl Lewis as well as Coach Tom Tellez who groomed me into the coaching profession,” Burrell said in the release. “I can’t thank enough the UH team, staff and Chris Pezman, DeJuena Chizer and Lauren DuBois for their support. Houston has been my home and will always be in me, but I’m flying out of the nest to soar with Auburn.”

“Coach Burrell’s accomplishments as an Olympic gold-medalist and his track record of consistent, championship-level success through recruiting and developing elite student-athletes speak for themselves,” said Allen Greene, Auburn Director of Athletics, in the press release. “A confident, humble leader, Coach Burrell believes in work, hard work. He will continue the long history of exemplary leadership of Auburn’s track and field program and will be an outstanding representative of the Auburn Family.”

About the Author:

Born in Canada but raised in Houston, Howard joined KPRC 2 in 2021 after five years at ESPN. Before that, Howard was a reporter on Houston Rockets and Houston Astros game broadcasts. Among the events that Howard has covered on site: the NBA bubble and the Basketball Hall of Fame inductions for both Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. He's H-town proud!