The UTEP Miners is the name given to the athletics teams that represent the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Fans shorten this name to the Miners, UTEP, or even Texas-El Paso, but they all mean quality programs and spirited teams.
The Men’s and Women’s Miners play from the Don Haskins Center in the NCAA Division I level. They were formerly members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1967 to 2005, where they then left to join Conference USA. Over the course of the team’s history, they’ve been known as a spirited team that plays hard especially when defending their home arenas and venues.
But one of the biggest claims to fame for the Men’s basketball teams is the legendary 1966 Men’s basketball team under then Coach Haskins. This team made history in the NCAA during the heights of the Civil Rights Movement and have since been heralded and honored in media from books to movies and everything in between.
When the team in dark blue and orange hit the court, you can see in their faces that they are there to play. And no matter how the game goes, fans will always catch plays to remember and moments fit for the record books.
Miners That Hit it Big
The Miners have fielded players who have made notable careers in the NBA and on the international level in professional basketball. These players have carried the Miners pride with them and have earned fans every time they hit the court. These are just some of the players that have made their mark in basketball history.
Miners in the NBA
- Nate “Tiny” Archibald
- Jim Barnes
- Derrick Caracter
- Antonio Davis
- Greg Foster
- Tim Hardaway
- David Lattin
- Nolan Richardson
- Julyan Stone
- Jason Williams
- Willie Worsley
- Dave Feitl
- Arnett Moultrie
- Vince Hunter
Miners in international professional basketball
- McKenzie Moore (born 1992), in the Israeli Basketball Premier League
- Randy Culpepper, currently plays for Scafati Basket of the Italian Serie A2 Basketball League.
The UTEP Devoted Fans
To date, UTEP has attracted 5,592,257 fans in 34 seasons to the arena. This incredible number includes 112 sold out games for UTEP basketball matches. Some college basketball fans agree that no one rallies behind their hometown heroes quite like UTEP Miners fans and that that’s why you have to pick up your tickets early.
There’s no telling if the next big game is going to be a sold-out event.
About Don Haskins Center
The Don Haskins Center, once known as the Special Events Center, is the home venue for the UTEP Miners men’s and women’s basketball teams. The Venue is located in the heart of El Paso, Texas and serves primarily as both a basketball venue as well as a concert venue. The arena also sees use by area schools, such as El Paso Community College, for graduation and commencement ceremonies.
And because it’s the venue with one of the largest seating capacities in the city, it’s become the focal point for big name events. This includes concerts by Shakira, Britney Spears, and KISS.
The Arena has seating for 11,892 fans in its basketball arrangement and 12,567 spectators for concerts. Construction broke ground on January 13, 1975 and was later opened to the public on February 3, 1977.
The venue was originally built and opened to the public in 1977. At the time it was called The Special Events Center and was designed to replace the aging Memorial Gym. The venue was later renamed to honor UTEP’s Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins in 1998, who is best known for his 1966 Men’s basketball team that featured five starting African-American players.
Since then, the arena has been home to incredible matches, including the milestone win duing the 1997-1998 season where coach Haskins earned his 700th career victory against SMU. The arena has also played host to the 1984, 1985, and 1990 Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournaments as well as the 2011 and 2014 Conference USA tournaments.
One of the famous features of the venue is the Robbins Bio-Channel Star maple floor that was installed in the summer of 2002. It also features two modern locker rooms, training facilities, and basketball coaches’ offices. Despite the venues age, it has been updated in recent years to improve the game-day environment for basketball events. These improvements include four new scoreboards and two video replay boards for a total of seven electronic scoreboards.
Ever since the athletic program formed, the Miners have been a constant presence in collegiate sports. Many of these achievements include appearances in and wins in the NCAA Tournaments. Here are a few of the notable team achievements and seasons.
NCAA Tournament Champions (1)
NCAA Tournament Final Four (1)
NCAA Tournament Elite Eight (1)
NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen (4)
1964, 1966, 1967, 1992
NCAA Tournament Round of 32 (4)
1985, 1987, 1989, 1992
NCAA Tournament Appearances (17)
1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1975, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2004, 2005, 2010
Conference tournament champions (5)
1984, 1986, 1989, 1990, 2005
Conference regular season champions (11)
1957, 1959, 1970, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1992, 2004, 2010
1966 Texas Western Basketball Team
As Texas Western, the Miners won the 1966 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament with a 72-65 victory over Kentucky. This match, played in College Park, Maryland, is considered one of the most important in college basketball history. This is because it marked the first time that a team with five AFrican-American starters won a title game. The Kentucky team, at the time, had no African-American players and all of this was during the heights of the Civil Rights Movement.
This moment and squad has since been chronicled in American history and media. This includes the book And the Walls Came Tumbling Down by Frank Fitzpatrick in 1999 and the 2006 Disney Movie Glory Road.
The team has recently been inducted into hte Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as of 2007.