May 23, 1945 |
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
New York Metropolitan Area Coach of the Year (1981)
A-10 Coach of the Year (1987)
Tom Penders (born May 23, 1945) is a retired college basketball head coach, who last coached from 2004 through 2010 at the University of Houston. He is from Stratford, Connecticut and has a 648-438 career record. As a college athlete, Penders played both basketball and 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 last 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.
Penders posted 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.
Tufts, Columbia, Fordham
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.
After Columbia, Penders moved to Fordham University where he remained for eight years and compiled 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. On January 26, 2013, Penders was inducted into the Fordham Athletic Hall of Fame. 
Penders 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 former Texas and now Tennessee 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 switched to a more uptempo offense, and called his team the "Runnin' Horns." 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. The beginning of the end for his tenure began on March 9, when four players went to the home of athletic director DeLoss Dodds and told him they were dissatisfied with Penders. On March 18, the academic records of one of the players who attended the meeting, Luke Axtell, were leaked to KVET, the radio flagship of the Longhorns, in violation of student privacy laws. School officials held Penders responsible for the incident and forced him to resign on April 2. One of Penders' assistants, Eddie Oran, initially took responsibility for releasing the grades, but later claimed Penders ordered their release. He sued Penders for defamation in 2002, claiming that statements Penders made when the scandal broke wrecked his career. However, a jury sided with Penders.
His time at Texas was the subject of a book, Burned Orange by Kyle Dalton.
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 composed mostly of recruits of former Colonial head coach Mike Jarvis. Off-court issues with players followed and Penders ultimately resigned in 2001, due to stress and his congenital heart condition.
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 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 8th coach to take 4 different schools to the NCAA tournament.
Penders resigned as coach of Houston on March 22, 2010 following a first round loss to Maryland in the NCAA tournament.
College playing career
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. Like his father, Jim Penders 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
|Tufts (NESCAC) (1971–1974)|
|Columbia (Ivy League) (1974–1978)|
|Fordham (Independent) (1978–1981)|
|1980–81||Fordham||19-9||NIT 1st Round|
|Fordham (MAAC) (1981–1986)|
|1981–82||Fordham||18-11||8-2||2nd||NIT 1st Round|
|1982–83||Fordham||19-11||7-3||T-2nd||NIT 1st Round|
|1983–84||Fordham||19-15||7-7||4th||NIT 1st Round|
|1984–85||Fordham||19-12||9-5||2nd||NIT 1st Round|
|Rhode Island (A-10) (1986–1988)|
|1986–87||Rhode Island||20-10||12-6||3rd||NIT 1st Round|
|1987–88||Rhode Island||28-7||14-4||2nd||NCAA Sweet 16|
|Rhode Island:||48-17 (.739)||26-10|
|Texas (SWC) (1988–1996)|
|1988–89||Texas||25-9||12-4||2nd||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1989–90||Texas||24-9||12-4||3rd||NCAA Elite Eight|
|1990–91||Texas||23-9||13-3||2nd||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1991–92||Texas||23-12||11-3||T-1st||NCAA 1st Round|
|1993–94||Texas||26-8||12-2||1st||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1994–95||Texas||23-7||11-3||T-1st||NCAA 2nd Round|
|1995–96||Texas||21-10||10-4||3rd||NCAA 2nd Round|
|Texas (Big 12) (1996–1998)|
|1996–97||Texas||18-12||11-6||T-3rd||NCAA Sweet 16|
|George Washington (A-10) (1998–2001)|
|1998–99||George Washington||20-9||13-3||1st (West)||NCAA 1st Round|
|1999–00||George Washington||15-15||9-7||T-2nd (West)|
|George Washington:||49-42 (.538)||28-20|
|Houston (C-USA) (2004–present)|
|2004–05||Houston||18-14||9-7||T-4th||NIT 1st Round|
|2005–06||Houston||21-10||9-5||4th||NIT 2nd Round|
|2008–09||Houston||21-12||10-6||T-4th||CBI 1st Round|
|2009–10||Houston||19-16||7-9||7th||NCAA 1st Round|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
- Holtr, David. The Best Little Scandal in Texas. The GW Hatchet, 1999-08-23.
- Jury clears former Texas coach in defamation suit. Associated Press, 2002-08-13.