The UH Department of Athletics announced Thursday that head basketball coach Tom Penders' top assistant, Melvin Haralson, is taking a leave of absence.
Haralson did not travel with the Cougars to Bowling Green, Ky., where they edged out Western Kentucky 74-72 on Tuesday. KRIV Fox 26's Mark Berman was the first to report that Haralson was missing in action.
Director of Athletics Communications Jeff Conrad and other University officials refused to comment on this matter.
Fox 26 Sports reported Thursday that an advisor close to Haralson said Haralson requested the leave of absence for personal reasons. The school approved, allowing Haralson to miss the trip to Western Kentucky.
The length of Haralson's break is indefinite at this time, but several sources believe this could be the first sign that Athletic Director Mack Rhoades wants a new coaching staff.
UH is 12-11 this season and probably won't make a postseason tournament unless it wins the Conference USA Tournament. In six seasons under Penders, the Cougars have never earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Haralson spent two years as an assistant at UH before Penders became head coach. Since then, he has served as Penders' associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.