Kelvin Sampson

Kelvin Sampson (born October 5, 1955)

Current position: Head men’s basketball coach
Current team: Houston Cougars
Current conference: Big 12 Conference
Montana Tech record: 73–45 (.619)
Washington State record: 103-103 (.500)
Oklahoma record: 281-107 (.724)
Indiana record: 43-15 (.741)
Houston record: 264-79 (.770)
Overall record^: 764-349 (.686)

Career Accomplishments:


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

2014-present Houston
2011-2014 Houston Rockets (asst)
2008-2011 Milwaukee Bucks (asst)
2006-2008 Indiana
1994-2006 Oklahoma
1987-1994 Washington State
1985-1987 Washington State (asst)
1981-1985 Montana Tech
1980-1981 Montana Tech (asst)
1979-1980 Michigan State (grad asst)

Kelvin Sampson Facts

  • Kelvin Dale Sampson
  • Born October 5, 1955
  • Hometown: Laurinburg, North Carolina
  • Alma Mater: UNC-Pembroke (BS, 1978) / Michigan State (MA, 1980)
  • Is of Native American descent and is the only Native American head coach to lead a team to the Final Four
  • Played basketball, football and baseball at Pembroke High School (NC)
  • Captained of his HS basketball team, playing for his father John W. “Ned” Sampson; went on to play at D-II Pembroke State (now UNC Pembroke)
  • Started his coaching career as a graduate assistant under legendary Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote
  • Spent one year as an assistant at NAIA Montana Tech before taking over as head coach in 1981
    • Went 73-45 overall in four seasons as the Orediggers’ head coach
  • Moved up to Division I in 1985 as an assistant to Len Stevens at Washington State; took over as head coach two years later
    • Went 103-103 during his tenure at WSU, leading the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament in his final season (1994-95)
  • Took over the Oklahoma program in 1994, leading the Sooners to the postseason in each of his twelve years as head coach (11 NCAA Tournaments, 1 NIT); made it to the Final Four in 2002
    • During his time in Norman, Sampson got in some trouble for making excessive recruiting phone calls
  • Hired in March 2006 to become the new head coach at Indiana, a position he would hold for less than two full seasons
    • Resigned in February 2008 amid another NCAA scandal surrounding excessive calls and text messages; the NCAA gave Sampson a five-year show cause
  • Moved to the NBA for the next six seasons, spending three years each as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks (under Scott Skiles) and Houston Rockets (under Kevin McHale)
    • Acting Houston Rockets head coach for 13 games during the 2012-13 season, leading team to 7-6 record
  • Returned to the college ranks in April 2014 when he was hired as the new head coach of the Houston Cougars
    • Led the Cougars to an at-large bid in the 2018 NCAA Tournament after falling short in the AAC Tournament final
    • A year later, Sampson’s Cougars claimed the outright AAC regular season title and won his second straight AAC COY award
    • Reached career victory #600 in January 2019 (first 73 wins came at the NAIA level)
    • In 2021, Sampson led the Cougars to their first NCAA Final Four in nearly 40 years; Sampson won the John McLendon Award
    • Won 31 games in 2022-23 and earned a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament
    • In 2023-24, the program’s first year in the Big 12, the Cougars were outright Big 12 champions; earned a second-straight 1-seed in 2024; Sampson was named AP COY and NABC COY for the second time in his career, and Big 12 COY for the first time

Kelvin Sampson Coaching Tree


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the both the NCAA and NAIA levels