UTEP Miners

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UTEP Miners
UniversityUniversity of Texas at El Paso
ConferenceConference USA (primary)
Patriot Rifle Conference (women's rifle)
NCAADivision I (FBS)
Athletic directorJim Senter
LocationEl Paso, Texas
Varsity teams15
Football stadiumSun Bowl
Basketball arenaDon Haskins Center
Softball stadiumHelen of Troy Softball Complex
Soccer stadiumUniversity Field
Other venuesMemorial Gym
Kidd Field
MascotPaydirt Pete
NicknameMiners and Lady Miners
Fight songEl Paso Fight
ColorsDark blue, orange, and silver accent[1]
Conference USA logo in UTEP's colors

The UTEP Miners is the name given to the sports teams of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). They are informally referred to as the Miners, UTEP, or Texas–El Paso. UTEP was a member of the Western Athletic Conference from 1967 to 2005, when they joined Rice, Tulsa, and SMU in leaving the WAC for Conference USA.[2] The UTEP Miners are best known as the first team in Texas to win an NCAA Men's Basketball Championship (and only team in Texas to be national champions until Baylor’s victory in the 2021 tournament). UTEP's colors are orange and blue and the mascot is a miner named Paydirt Pete.

Sports sponsored[edit]

Men's sports Women's sports
Basketball Basketball
Cross country Cross country
Football Golf
Golf Rifle
Track & field Soccer
Track & field
Beach volleyball
† – Track and field includes both indoor and outdoor


Playing their first game in 1914, the UTEP Miners football team currently competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The team plays its games in the Sun Bowl Stadium, and head coach Mike Price retired from his 9th and final season at UTEP in 2012.

Traveling trophies[edit]

The winner of the UTEP vs. New Mexico State University football game receives a pair of traveling trophies: The Silver Spade and The Brass Spittoon. The first spade used for this purpose was an old prospector's shovel dug up from an abandoned mine in the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico in 1947. This was the symbol of victory, and the spade was given to the winner of the football game between the Miners and Aggies each year.

The idea of the present Silver Spade was from UTEP student Don Henderson, the student association president and now a very successful El Paso businessman and former mayor of the city. In 1955 Henderson secured the present spade and each year the score of the game is engraved on the blade.

Perhaps the idea behind the spade is the fact that at the time the prospector's spade was uncovered, both schools' major field of study had use for the tool, mining and metallurgy for the College of Mines and agriculture at then New Mexico A&M.

The Brass Spittoon, officially known as the Mayor's Cup, came into existence in 1982 when the mayors of the two cities; Jonathan Rogers of El Paso, and David Steinberg of Las Cruces decided to present another traveling trophy to the winner of the UTEP vs New Mexico State University game. This game is more commonly known as "The Battle of I-10".

UTEP was a member of the Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association, from 1941-1961. The football team won a conference championship in 1956.

Men's basketball[edit]

1966 Texas Western basketball team[edit]

UTEP men's basketball at the Don Haskins Center

As Texas Western, the Miners won the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. The 72–65 victory over Kentucky at The University of Maryland's Cole Field House in College Park, Maryland is considered one of the most important games in the history of college basketball. It marked the first time that a team started 5 African-American players in a title game.[3] Contrary to popular belief, this game was not an "upset" since Kentucky and Texas Western entered the game ranked #1 and #2 respectively, with each team having only one loss. At this time, Kentucky had no African-American players (though Adolph Rupp gave formal scholarship offers to black players as early as 1964, it was not until Tom Payne in 1971 that a black player finally joined the Wildcats). The impact of the game was pivotal primarily because it occurred during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

The title team has been chronicled throughout the American media, including the books Basketball's Biggest Upset by Ray Sanchez and When the Walls Came Tumbling Down by Frank Fitzpatrick, and the 2006 Disney movie, Glory Road.

The team was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cross Country[edit]

The UTEP Miners' men's cross country team has won 7 national cross country championships, the most recent of which came in 1981 and including a four-year streak of national championships from 1978-1981. They have qualified for 18 national championships, finishing first 7 times, second twice, third twice, and fifth once. They were originally awarded the 1983 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championship title, but it was later revoked amid allegations of slush fund payments to runners. The Miners' men's and women's cross country teams have been coached since 2003 by former professional athlete and Olympic 800 meter gold medalist Paul Ereng. The men's team has had three individual national champions: Suleiman Nyambui in 1980, Matthews Motshwarateu in 1981, and Zakarie Barie in 1983. The Miners' women's cross country team earned a trip to the NCAA Division I Women's Cross Country Championships every year from 1987-2009, finishing as high as 5th in 1987. The women's team has not had an individual champion.


In June 2013, the Miners' rifle team became a charter member of the Patriot Rifle Conference.[4]

NCAA Division I national championships[edit]

UTEP's sports programs have won a total of 21 NCAA Division I national championships.[5] UTEP is currently tied for 10th overall among schools in Men's Sports Division I championships.


Fight song[edit]

UTEP's fight song was written by the school's music department in the late 1980's. It is based on Marty Robbins's Grammy-winning song "El Paso" with slightly rewritten lyrics and tempo, and was used with the permission of Robbins's estate.[6]

2008 Olympics[edit]

UTEP students and alumni participated in track and field events.[7]

Athlete Event Team
Mickaël Hanany high jump  France
Blessing Okagbare long jump  Nigeria
Blessing Okagbare
Oludamola Osayomi
Halimat Ismaila
women's 4×100 meter relay  Nigeria
Oludamola Osayomi 100M women  Nigeria
Oludamola Osayomi 200M women  Nigeria
Halimat Ismaila 100M women  Nigeria
Churandy Martina 100M men  Netherlands Antilles
Churandy Martina 200M men  Netherlands Antilles
Ronalds Arājs 200M men  Latvia
Caimin Douglas men 4×100 meter relay  Netherlands
Erma-Gene Evans javelin  Saint Lucia
Alexandros Papadimitriou hammer throw men  Greece
Henderson Dottin    Barbados
Fatimoh Muhammed    Liberia


Aerial view of Kidd Field (upper left) and Sun Bowl Stadium (lower right)

UTEP owns the two largest stadiums in El Paso:


  1. ^ The University of Texas at El Paso Graphic Identity Guide (PDF). Retrieved August 8, 2019.
  2. ^ "UTEP leaves WAC, joins Conference USA". May 1, 2004. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "ESPN Classic - Texas Western's 1966 title left lasting legacy". espn.go.com. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  4. ^ "Nevada Rifle Team Joins Patriot Rifle Conference". Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "Schools with the Most NCAA Championships". Archived from the original on April 19, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008.
  6. ^ "History & Spirit - The University of Texas at El Paso". alumni.utep.edu. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  7. ^ "University of Texas at el Paso - WikiRun". Archived from the original on January 8, 2009. Retrieved August 25, 2008.

External links[edit]