Former University of Houston Women’s Basketball coach Joe Curl passed away Monday morning in Houston at the age of 59. Curl died from congestive heart failure in hospice care in Houston.
He has needed a transplant since he suffered a heart attack in 2007. Curl retired three years later, after his condition worsened. Though he underwent a procedure last August to insert a heart pump, Curl had been on the transplant list for more than a year.
“We’ve had a bunch of emotions,” his daughter Angela Curl-Okafor said. “I think it’s gone from complete sadness and being devastated to basically happy that he’s no longer suffering. He’s gone through a lot.”
The legendary coach compiled an all-time record of 193-167 in 12 seasons at the helm. He also went 97-87 in all-time Conference USA action. His all-time overall victories and all-time conference wins are both the most by any coach in school history, while he guided the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2004 and 2005, and helped UH land three trips to the WNIT in 2001, 2002, and 2010.
In 2003-04, Curl led the Cougars to the most wins in school history with 28 wins, championships in the Conference USA game and tournament and an appearance and win in the NCAA tournament for the first time. The Cougars earned a 62-47 victory against Green Bay in the first round of the Big Dance. Curl recorded seven winning seasons and led the Cougars to five postseason appearances.
After the record-breaking season in 2004, Curl was named C-USA Coach of the Year and received National Coach of the Year honors from The Associated Press, United States Basketball Writers Association, ESPN.com and The Basketball Times.
“Joe was a special member of our athletics family, serving not only as head coach but as a mentor to many young women throughout the year,” said Mack Rhoades, UH’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics. “His presence and larger-than-life personality will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.”
Curl is survived by his wife of nearly 39 years, Lesa; daughters Curl-Okafor and Jennifer Curl; son-in-law Patrick Okafor; and grandchildren Maverick and Peyton Curl-Okafor and Caleb Curl.
Funeral services for Curl will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Rosewood Funeral Home at 3939 Pasadena Blvd. in Pasadena. Visitation will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday and will be preceded by a cookout honoring Curl beginning at noon. “We want to do it in his tailgate style,” Angela Curl-Okafor said. Dress for the event is casual.