UTEP at a Crossroads: It’s All on the Line

Sun Bowl.jpg

UTEP’s sports future hinges on one key player. Who will it be?

 

Tubby Smith has made the rounds in the upper reaches of men’s college basketball – Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas Tech and Memphis. With all those stamps on his coaching passport, he is now the coach at High Point University, a small private, liberal arts outpost in North Carolina. He has a message for UTEP fans: 

“Coaches win games,” Smith says, “administrations win championships.”

If anyone should know, it is Orlando Henry “Tubby” Smith.

Tubby Smith
Tubby Smith

If anyone should be paying attention to the retirement of UTEP President Diana Natalicio, it is Miners fans. It’s the most important recruit UTEP athletics might ever sign.

Diana Natalicio
Diana Natalicio

Here’s why:

Coach Dana Dimel has recently finished his first painful season in football. Ditto for women’s basketball coach Kevin Baker. Men’s basketball coach Rodney Terry is less than a year on the job. 

Dana Dimel, football
Dana Dimel
Rodney Terry
Rodney Terry

That trio takes marching orders from Athletic Director Jim Senter. He’s new, too. In the trickle-down, Senter has a boss, too — Natalicio’s replacement. 

The future of UTEP big three sports … indeed, all sports, is directly linked to the next University president, and how much importance he or she places on intercollegiate athletics. With continued (or expanded) support, especially in fund-raising, I believe UTEP sports will not only survive, but prosper. 

Without the new president’s blessing, tangible and visible, the Miners could wither, in all three sports. So, who will shake the money tree and lead UTEP sports in 2019 and beyond? 

We here at Miners Are Forever can only tell you we have our ears to the ground, our snout to the wind. If you know, feel free to share with us in the comments section below.

Ironic, isn’t it? The most vital player in all of UTEP athletics is about to take his/her place in the lineup – but will never suit up for the Miners. —By Mark S. McDonald, Executive Editor

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