Alumni Appreciation Night, February 2014.
Kevin Butler and Eric Houle are the most recent additions to Southern Utah University’s Coaching Factory Hall of Fame for their achievements as coaches and their impact on their athletes and their sport.
After an all-state football career at Grantsville High School, Kevin Butler went on to further gridiron greatness at Southern Utah University, where he was a three-year starter on the offensive line for the Thunderbirds. He coached for a year at Tooele High School, and then returned to Grantsville in 1984 as an assistant football coach before assuming the top job in 1987. He lead the Cowboys to glory, winning three state crowns, including the first in the school’s history in 1992, and amassing a record of 117 and 54 over 16 seasons, with each team progressing to the playoffs.
He coached 50 first-team All-State players, seven Utah MVPs and was three times names coach of the year for the state. Beyond that, he was largely responsible for upgrading Cowboy Stadium, making it a site that instilled pride in the school and the community. He also was the initial coach for Grantsville High School’s wrestling and golf programs in the mid-80’s and coached girls’ track and field as well.
Additionally, he instituted the little league wrestling program in Grantsville in 1985 and the little league Ute football program in 1987. In 2009, he joined the staff of one of his former players when Clint Christiansen became Stansbury High School’s first football coach and aided the Stallions on their road to becoming another dynasty in Utah 3-A football.
Eric Houle, who has mentored the cross country and track and field teams at Southern Utah University since 1992, has become one of America’s most respected coaches.
Previous to returning to his alma mater, he turned in a stellar 11-year run as cross country coach at Salt Lake City’s Judge Memorial high School, producing three state championship teams along with five runner-up squads. He was three times named coach of the year in Utah.
At SUU he has led his teams to 38 conference championships and can boast of an NCAA Mountain Division cross country championship as well, a feat for which he was named region coach of the year. He has won conference coach of the year honors an impressive 32 times, coaching both men’s and women’s teams in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. Along the way, he has coached 735 all-conference athletes, 252 individual conference champions 25 conference athletes of the year, 27 conference newcomers of the year 24 NCAA national qualifiers, 75 NCAA West regional qualifiers, four NCAA All-Americans and one NCAA National Champion.
His teams have excelled in the classroom as well over the years, garnering two academic national championships and a runner-up honor while nine athletes have been named academic all-America. Coach Houle earned two bachelor’s degrees from SUU in 1981 as well as a master’s degree in 1998.