Tom Penders: Wikis


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Tom Penders

Title Head coach
College Houston
Sport Basketball
Team record 120-75 (.615)
Born May 23, 1945 (1945-05-23) (age 64)
Place of birth United States Stratford, Connecticut
Career highlights
Overall 650-446 (.593)
MAAC Tournament Championship (1983)
SWC Regular Season Championship (1992, 1994, 1995)
C-USA Tournament Championship (2010)
New York Metropolitan Area Coach of the Year (1981)
A-10 Coach of the Year (1987)
Playing career
1964-1967 UConn
Position Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Rhode Island
George Washington

Tom Penders (born May 23, 1945 in Stratford, Connecticut) is a college basketball head coach, currently in his fifth season at the University of Houston. He is from Stratford, Connecticut and has a 615-411 career record. Houston is a combined 101-61 in his first five seasons. As a college athlete, Penders played both college basketball and college baseball for the University of Connecticut, and is one of the few players to have competed in both the NCAA Tournament as well as the College World Series.

Prior to his current job as Houston's head coach, Penders was a sports analyst for ESPN and Westwood One Radio. He also has been the head coach for Tufts, Columbia, Fordham, Rhode Island, Texas, and George Washington.


Coaching career


High school

Penders went to Tufts after posting a 59-10 record as a high school coach at Bullard-Havens Tech and Bridgeport Central High School in Connecticut. He led Bullard-Havens to a 14-6 record in his first season as a head coach. The next year he guided Bridgeport Central to a 23-2 record and a number two ranking in the state. The following year, he was named the New York Daily News Coach of the Year after leading Bridgeport to a 20-1 mark and Number one ranking.

Fordham, Columbia, Tufts

He went to Rhode Island after heading the basketball program at Fordham University for eight years and compiling a 125-114 record. In 1980-81, Penders was named the New York Metropolitan Area Coach of the Year after leading Fordham to a 19-9 record.

Before his stint at Fordham, Penders coached at Columbia University, for four seasons. In his final two years there, Penders led the school to back-to-back winning seasons as Columbia finished the 1976-77 campaign with a 16-10 record and was 15-11 1975-76.

Penders began his collegiate coaching career at Tufts University in 1971, and compiled a 54-18 record in three seasons. On October 6, 2006, Penders and his 1972-73 Tufts team were inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.

Rhode Island

At the University of Rhode Island, Penders led the Rams to the 1988 NCAA Sweet 16 with wins over Missouri and Syracuse in the first two rounds. Rhode Island lost, 73-72, to Duke in the Sweet 16 game.

He took over Rhode Island’s program on October 4, 1986, two weeks before the regular season began. He was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Co-Coach of the Year after guiding the Rams to a 20-10 record and a berth into the NIT his first year.


In his 10 seasons at the University of Texas, Penders compiled a 208-110 record; during his time there, he became the "winningest" basketball coach in school history (although now passed by current Texas coach Rick Barnes). He led the Longhorns to three Southwest Conference championships and eight NCAA Tournament appearances, including an "Elite Eight" in 1990, and the "Sweet 16" in 1997. His teams at Texas averaged 20.8 wins per season, 87.2 points per game, and forced 19 turnovers per contest.

When Penders was hired in 1988, he inherited a team that won 16 games the year before; the Erwin Center (the Longhorns' home court) averaged 4,028 fans per game (in a 16,231-seat arena). Immediately after his arrival, Penders put his brand on the program. He called his team the "Runnin' Horns" and spoke to every alumnus and booster group in the state. His first team finished second in the Southwest Conference and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Longhorns also set 22 school and SWC records while more than doubling their attendance average to 10,011 per game, the largest increase in NCAA Division I.

In his final year at Texas, Penders underwent heart surgery and was unable to coach the first few games of what would end up being a tumultuous season. He would ultimately resign in 1998, after a scandal involved the release of a player's grade report to the local media, which violated NCAA rules.

His time at Texas was the subject of a book, Burned Orange by Kyle Dalton.[1]

George Washington

Penders served as head coach at the George Washington University from 1998–2001, where he compiled a 49–42 record and led the Colonials to the NCAA Tournament. Penders' only winning season while directing the Colonials was his first, where he inherited a talented team comprised mostly of recruits of former Colonial head coach Mike Jarvis. Penders cited "burnout" and resigned from GW in 2001 after a number of scandals on campus, including an on-campus rape and weapons violations by player Atilla Cobsy which Penders did not tell the GW administration about, [2][3][4] a phonecard scandal involving his son, who was an assistant coach,[5][6] as well as star guard Sir Valiant Brown leaving after his sophomore year for the NBA because he wouldn't qualify to play the next season for academic reasons.[7]

Penders said his resignation was because after 30 years of coaching, it was "time for a sabattical," and said the resignation was not related to the off-the-court issues.[8] The university honored the rest of Penders' contract, with GW athletic director Jack Kvancz said honoring it "was the class thing to do." When GW's Kvancz was questioned about the payout (in the area of $1M) he refused to comment. "[9]


In his first season at the University of Houston, Penders guided the Cougars to the nation’s fourth-best turnaround with an 18–14 overall record and Houston led the nation in turnover margin and set both team and individual school records for most three-point field goals made in a season.

In his second season, Penders led the Cougars to their first 20-win season, first back-to-back winning seasons and first back-to-back postseason tournament appearances since 1992–93. He also led Houston to back-to-back wins over nationally-ranked teams for the first time since the 1984 NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament and their first postseason tournament victory since 1988 in his first two years at the school, in the NIT.

Houston finished the 2005-06 campaign with a 2–2 record against nationally-ranked teams after beating No. 25 LSU on November 29 and 13th-ranked Arizona December 3 in a nationally-televised game on ESPN2.

Houston’s postseason tournament victory was against BYU in the first round of the 2006 NIT. It also was Penders’ first career victory in the NIT.

Houston led the nation in steals with a 12.4 average, and the Cougars finished second in turnover margin with an average margin of +7.5.

Penders came to Houston after spending three years as an analyst for ESPN and Westwood One Radio.

Penders led the Houston Cougars to the Conference USA championship game in 2010 where they defeated UTEP for their first NCAA Tournament berth in 18 years. This made him only the 4th coach to take 4 different schools to the NCAA tournament.

College playing career

Penders played both baseball and basketball at the University of Connecticut, where he starred as a center fielder for the baseball team and a point guard for the basketball team from 1964-67.

In his time at Connecticut, Penders also joined the Alpha Pi chapter of Theta Xi.


In addition to Tom and Tommy, Jr. serving as basketball coaches, his father was a longtime baseball coach at Stratford High School from 1931-68, and led the school to four state championships. His brother, Jim, is the baseball coach at East Catholic High School, and was named the national high school Coach of the Year in 1996. Just like his father, Jim won four state championships.

His two nephews also are collegiate baseball coaches. Jim was named the head coach at Connecticut in 2003 after serving seven years as an assistant coach and playing four years for the Huskies. Rob serves as the head baseball coach at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas.

Head coaching record

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Tufts (NESCAC) (1971–1974)
1971-1972 Tufts 12-8
1972-1973 Tufts 22-4
1973-1974 Tufts 20-6
Tufts: 54-18 (.750)
Columbia (Ivy League) (1974–1978)
1974-1975 Columbia 4-22 2-12 T-7th
1975-1976 Columbia 8-17 6-8 T-4th
1976-1977 Columbia 16-10 8-6 3rd
1977-1978 Columbia 15-11 11-3 T-2nd
Columbia: 43-60 (.417)
Fordham (Independent) (1978–1981)
1978-1979 Fordham 7-22
1979-1980 Fordham 11-17
1980-1981 Fordham 19-9 NIT 1st Round
Fordham (MAAC) (1981–1986)
1981-1982 Fordham 18-11 8-2 2nd NIT 1st Round
1982-1983 Fordham 19-11 7-3 T-2nd NIT 1st Round
1983-1984 Fordham 19-15 7-7 4th NIT 1st Round
1984-1985 Fordham 19-12 9-5 2nd NIT 1st Round
1985-1986 Fordham 13-17 7-7 T-4th
Fordham: 125-114 (.523) 38-24
Rhode Island (A-10) (1986–1988)
1986-1987 Rhode Island 20-10 12-6 3rd NIT 1st Round
1987-1988 Rhode Island 28-7 14-4 2nd NCAA Sweet 16
Rhode Island: 48-17 (.739)
Texas (SWC) (1988–1996)
1988-1989 Texas 25-9 12-4 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1989-1990 Texas 24-9 12-4 3rd NCAA Elite Eight
1990-1991 Texas 23-9 13-3 2nd NCAA 2nd Round
1991-1992 Texas 23-12 11-3 T-1st NCAA 1st Round
1992-1993 Texas 11-17 4-10 7th
1993-1994 Texas 26-8 12-2 1st NCAA 2nd Round
1994-1995 Texas 23-7 11-3 T-1st NCAA 2nd Round
1995-1996 Texas 21-10 10-4 3rd NCAA 2nd Round
Texas (Big 12) (1996–1998)
1996-1997 Texas 18-12 11-6 T-3rd NCAA Sweet 16
1997-1998 Texas 14-17 6-10 9th
Texas: 208-110 (.654)
George Washington (A-10) (1998–2001)
1998-1999 George Washington 20-9 13-3 1st (West) NCAA 1st Round
1999-2000 George Washington 15-15 9-7 T-2nd (West)
2000-2001 George Washington 14-18 6-10 7th
George Washington: 49-42 (.538) 28-20
Houston (C-USA) (2004–present)
2004-2005 Houston 18-14 9-7 T-4th NIT 1st Round
2005-2006 Houston 21-10 9-5 4th NIT 2nd Round
2006-2007 Houston 18-15 10-6 3rd
2007-2008 Houston 23-9 11-5 3rd CBI Semifinals
2008-2009 Houston 21-12 10-6 T-4th
2009-2010 Houston 19-15 7-9 T-4th NCAA
Houston: 120-75 (.615) 56-38
Total: 650-446 (.593)

      National Champion         Conference Regular Season Champion         Conference Tournament Champion
      Conference Regular Season & Conference Tournament Champion       Conference Division Champion


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Penders out at GW,"
  3. ^ "Penders resigns amid turmoil", GW Hatchet
  4. ^ "New Charges Filed Against GW's Cosby," Washington Post, Mark Asher, April 17, 2001
  5. ^ "4 GW Players Break NCAA Rules With Unauthorized Calls," Washington Post, Mark Asher, April 18, 2001
  6. ^ "GW basketball faces NCAA violations,"
  7. ^ "Brown plans jump to NBA", GW Hatchet
  8. ^ "Citing Burnout, Penders Resigns," Washington Post, Mark Asher and Thomas Heath, April 21, 2001.
  9. ^ "Penders resigns amid turmoil", GW Hatchet

External links


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