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James Dickey steps down as men's basketball coach at the University of Houston

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

James Dickey has decided to step down as the men's basketball coach at the University of Houston.

Dickey announced through the school he is stepping down due to "private family matters."

In his four years with the Cougars Dickey elevated the program across many facets while making the transition to the American Athletic Conference.

During the 2013-14 season his Cougars beat three top-25 teams, the first time UH had accomplished that feat since the 1983-1984 season.

The Cougars were able to have success on the basketball court while also having success in the classroom as the team had a program-best APR of 930 and set records for fall and semester team GPAs.

"This was a very difficult decision because I have such great love for these players," Dickey said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports and the Houston Chronicle.

"I've had the best boss you can have for four years in Mack Rhoades. He's such a great asset, not only to our athletic department but this university, to all the coaches and student-athletes and to college athletics. He's a first-class individual."

Dickey said he made his decision based around the fact that you have to practice what you preach.

"I have a term with my team called "Everyday Guy," Dickey said. "That means you have to give everything everyday.

"I was at the point personally where I didn't feel like I could do that. I have a personal family situation I have got to attend to. I hated leaving this team because they are a great group. They are going to be a heck of a team next year. I have a coaching staff I'm concerned about.

"I've always been a firm believer that you've got to live what you preach. My preaching is commitment to be totally all in. I've got a situation that is going to require me to be away for at least a certain amount of time. It's going to take a lot of time and energy. I just felt it was the best decision for the team, but also felt like I had to evaluate where I was personally."

Dickey's overall career record is 217-196, and he was 64-62 at Houston, including one postseason berth as the Cougars advanced to the 2013 CBI quarterfinals.

The 2012-13 Houston team finished the season with a 20-13 record, the program's first 20-win season since 2008-09.

"This is something that has come up pretty quickly," Dickey said of his decision. "When I came back from the tournament a week ago, I certainly never had this in mind."

He said taking a leave of absence would have not worked in this situation.

"It crossed my mind," said Dickey. "I thought it was unfair to the program, I thought it was unfair to the players, I thought it was unfair to Mack. Plus I need to be totally committed to the situation just like I was to coaching. I'm going to have to be away for awhile."

Dickey said he really enjoyed working with Mack Rhoades, UH's vice president for intercollegiate athletics.

"He's the best," Dickey said. "University of Houston is lucky to have a man of his leadership, of his integrity.

"He's a coach's dream to work for."

Rhoades said he'll conduct a national search to find Dickey's replacement.

"I am extremely grateful for Coach Dickey's contributions to our basketball program and our Athletics Department, both on and off the court, and hisdecision to step down comes with great heartache for all involved," said Rhoades in a statement released by the school.

"Coach Dickey is not only a great person and coach but a great mentor for all of our student-athletes and entire staff. He made so many of us in our department better. No one has worked harder than Coach Dickey, and he leaves the Houston Basketball Men's Basketball program in a much better place. He will be missed greatly by the entire Houston family, and we wish him and his family the very best."

Dickey had three All-Conference honorees with the Cougars, including current junior TaShawn Thomas, who earned 2013-14 Second Team honors from The American Athletic Conference and 2012-13 First Team honors from Conference USA. Under Dickey's leadership, current sophomore Danuel House was named the 2012-13 Conference USA Freshman of the Year and eight student-athletes earned All-Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll honors for academic success.

UH said candidates will not be made public by the department other than the announcement of the program's new head coach.

The search will take place simultaneously with Houston's national search for its next women's basketball head coach.

"The next Houston Men's Basketball coach will inherit a very promising situation thanks to the tireless efforts of Coach Dickey and his staff," Rhoades said.

"Coupled with the talented young men returning, facility upgrades in progress and membership in one of the premier basketball conferences in the nation, wefeel this is a very attractive opportunity."

And that opportunity will include Houston Yates 6-7 power forward J.C. Washington who signed to play for the Cougars.

The two spoke Monday afternoon.

"It was sad knowing that he was sad," Washington said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. "His family comes first and it had to happen."

Dickey encouraged Washington to stay with UH and he willl do just that.

"I'm sticking with my committment," Washington said. "I want to get close to the next coach that comes in and build a relationship with him.

"I'm a Cougar and I'm still there for the University."

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