December 08, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) The University of Houston fired football coach Tony Levine on Monday after three years and a 21-17 overall record.

The university said defensive coordinator David Gibbs has been named interim coach as the Cougars prepare for a Jan. 2 matchup against Pittsburgh in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.

Mack Rhoades, vice president for athletics, said he met several times with Levine through the season before determining ''we will be moving in a different direction.'' He said expectations for the Cougars have changed with the opening of a new stadium and as the team strives to remain competitive with other programs.

Levine was an assistant with the Cougars for four seasons before taking over when Kevin Sumlin was named head coach at Texas A&M in late 2011. He had signed a new five-year contract in May, but the Cougars posted a second straight 5-3 record in the American Athletic Conference.

''Coach Levine is an outstanding leader and over the last three years he has demonstrated great commitment to our student-athletes and has been an outstanding role model for our young men,'' Rhoades said. ''He has left the program in a better situation than it was when he inherited it.''

Rhoades said the university will not comment further on Levine's dismissal as it searches for the 14th head coach in the program's history.

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