Historical Society Plans to Honor 1966 Miners

Ray Sanchez© 09.16.18

This from Mark Calamia: “As co-chairman of the El Paso County Historical Commission’s (EPCHC) Historical Markers Committee, I am overseeing plans for the creation of a historical marker to commemorate the 1966 Texas Western College basketball team that won the NCAA Basketball Tournament by defeating the University of Kentucky.
“It would be placed somewhere on the grounds at UTEP with a dedication ceremony. If you are interested in assisting with this project, then let me know either way, please.”
Of course, I said I would help. This is timely since this month is the 10th anniversary of the death of the Miners’ coach, Don Haskins.

WHEN HASKINS passed away on Sept 7, 2008, I wrote that even the heavens cried. It Haskins1rained all afternoon and night following his death.
But one article that wasn’t mentioned in any of my stories was a tribute that another legendary basketball coach, Bob Knight, paid him on CBS.
The article follows.

“THE GLOW from Don Haskins’ greatest triumph was mostly a memory when Disney decided to take another look.
“Then came the movie ‘Glory Road’ and a whole new generation learned what Bob Knight already knew about his old friend’s career – and legacy.
“’Don got more out of his teams and players than any coach who has ever coached college basketball,’ Knight said.
“Haskins, the Hall of Fame coach credited with helping break color barriers in college sports in 1966 when he used five black starters to win a national basketball title for Texas Western, died Sunday. He was 78.
“’The word unique does not begin to describe Don Haskins,’ Knight, the winningest men’s coach in the sport’s history, said. ‘There is no one who has ever coached that I respected and admired more than Don Haskins. I’ve had no better friend that I enjoyed more than Don Haskins.’”
End of story.

AS FOR ME, I loved the man. Beneath the gruff exterior Haskins was a kind-hearted man. 66 minersPerhaps his greatest attribute was his generosity. When Disney offered him $300,000 for the rights to his life story but offered only $7000 to each of his players, Haskins told Disney to put his $300,000 and the $7000 for each of his players in one giant pot and distribute it equally.
Disney complained that it was too much trouble but Haskins insisted.
Each member of the team wound up with more than $37,000,

TRIVIA QUESTION: What was coach Don Haskins’ overall college coaching record? Answer at end of column.

THE FOLLOWING is from reader Mark Deemer:
“For the past three years I have been trying to get a UTEP women’s basketball jersey hung in the Don, but to no avail. I can think of at least 10 athletes off the top of my head that would qualify. I have been trying to accomplish this when coach Green (Keitha Rachelle Adams, formerly known as Keitha Green) was here. (Former athletic director Bob) Stull never contacted me after numerous e-mails and a phone call.
“The present coach said it was not up to him. The present AD told me that it would not happen this year (that was a conversation in February) and it would be in his in basket. Let’s make this happen. It is time and it would be a great recruiting tool as well.”

TRIVIA ANSWER: Don Haskins coached at UTEP from 1961 through 1999 and won 719 games and lost only 353. In the process he won seven Western Athletic Conference regular season championships, a NCAA basketball championship in 1966 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 while his 1966 team was inducted in its entirety by the same Hall of Fame in 2007.

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