Houston Chronicle, Melissa Phillip, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2011, file photo, Houston interim head football coach Tony Levine reacts during a news conference in Houston. Levine, who took over after Kevin Sumlin left to coach Texas A&M, will be named Houston's full-time coach on Thursday, Dec. 22, according to a person with knowledge of the decision speaking on condition of anonymity.

HOUSTON — A person with knowledge of the decision says Tony Levine will be named Houston's full-time coach on Thursday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because no announcement has been made by the school. The Houston Chronicle and KRIV-TV first reported the story.

Houston is looking to replace Kevin Sumlin, who accepted an offer to coach Texas A&M.

Levine, 39, was Sumlin's assistant head coach and special teams coordinator. He took over as interim coach after Sumlin left on Dec. 10 and has been preparing the Cougars (12-1) to play Penn State (9-3) in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 2.

Levine has been in Houston since Sumlin arrived in 2008. He was an assistant for the Carolina Panthers and at Louisville from 2002-05.

The Cougars reached unprecedented heights this season, winning their first 12 games and breaking into the top 10 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Houston was headed for its first BCS berth — and the first for Conference USA — until losing at home to Southern Miss in the league's championship game on Dec. 3.

But the loss couldn't completely ruin an otherwise historic season.

Quarterback Case Keenum became the Bowl Championship Subdivision's career leader in total offense, yards passing and touchdown throws and the Cougars finished the regular season as the nation's leader in total offense and scoring.

Meanwhile, Houston also completed its long-awaited move out into the more lucrative Big East Conference, with the automatic BCS bid attached. The school officially announced plans to build a new football stadium in the near future.

The success spurred speculation about Sumlin for weeks.

He finally met with his players a week after their loss to tell them he was leaving for A&M, where he worked earlier in his career. The popular Levine also spoke to the team and got a standing ovation from the players in the team's auditorium.

Levine met with reporters a few hours after the emotional meeting, and wasn't shy about stating his desire to become a head coach someday. He didn't lobby for the full-time job in Houston, though, saying he didn't think that was the time or place to do it.

But Levine hinted on Dec. 10 that he and his family felt settled in Houston.

"I think it's known that I want to be a head football coach," Levine said on Dec. 10. "I'm a college football coach, and I wanted to get back into college (coaching). This could not have been a better situation for my family and me. We've been here for four years, it's the longest I've ever been at any one of my stops. And we love it here."

Several assistant coaches went on recruiting trips a day or two after Sumlin's departure, and Houston hosted more than a dozen high-school prospects last weekend. Levine was eager to lock up as many commitments as he could while athletics director Mack Rhoades interviewed potential candidates.

"When you look at the landscape of college football, coaches come and go all the time," Levine said. "But we've been recruiting most of these young men for the past 12 to 18 months, and that goes along with being here for four years. I've got a couple of kids coming in that I've known about since 9th grade.

"In that respect, they've had opportunities, and they've chosen to commit to the University of Houston and not necessarily a coach," Levine said. "We're going to continue to sell what a great place this university is."