As was announced this last week, the UTEP Miners long time Athletics Director, Bob Stull, retired. After 18 years of ups and downs, the Miners find themselves looking for a new Athletics Director. The question is, do they hire in-house or do they look for someone new to run the show?Those who follow me on twitter know that I have been advocating for myself to be the new AD, but I am not so blind to think I have a legitimate chance. Instead I am simply hoping UTEP looks outside the box, when it comes to their new hire.
First, lets not discount the good things Bob Stull did at UTEP. While there, the Soccer, Track and Field and Softball teams saw significant improvement in not just play but facilities. He helped usher in an upgrade to the athletic culture in UTEP with the Durham Center and upgrades to the Sun Bowl, and did his best to bring in coaches to UTEP with a winning pedigree and a connection to the city of El Paso. Perhaps most importantly and brought up by multiple people, more so Michael Montes, was the marketing of merchandise to the El Paso community. UTEP apparel being sold at a multitude of stores may seem like common place now, but that wasn’t always the case as recently as the late 1990’s.All of the above are examples of the great things Bob Stull did for UTEP. The bad though is where I lose my love for Bobby. Let me preface this argument by saying yes, yes we know that Dr. Natalicio at UTEP hasn’t been the most supportive of the athletics department, but she has done a few decent things as far as growing UTEP as a whole, more so academically, and that IS in fact her job. But to blame her solely for UTEP’s failures in drawing a crowd isn’t right. UTEP’s marketing team, which is lead by Stull, has failed the community. Outdated billboards throughout the city, two year old flyers for football all throughout the campus, no true student section and a seemingly endless battle for being right all the time have lead to the disconnect between UTEP and their fans. So future UTEP Athletics Director, I implore you to make a change. Embrace the fans, do not insult their intelligence by saying “El Paso is made up of fair-weather fans”. Because even when the team is winning there is hardly a crowd. Make it worth our while to be there, make it the show within a show, give us more of what other major colleges give their fans. You want the draw of those universities, then start acting like one of those major universities. Demand more from your Football and Men’s Basketball coaches. Finishing at or around .500 isn’t going to cut it, you’re not the Dallas Cowboys, nor do you have the sustained history of winning to boast about, that would warrant fans coming to the games for an average team, and even at that, the Cowboys knew they had to make the game, more than a game. Update the Haskins Center and Sun Bowl, don’t tell us that Dr. Natalicio won’t give you that money as a statement that we as fans should be ok with less. Demand more of her! Demand she respect the number one money maker at that university and at any university, the Athletics Department. It is a Herculean task the new UTEP Athletics Director will have to regain the fans, start by showing us that there is something there we should invest not just our dollars, but our hearts into. Give us what we deserve, and that is to be on the main stage, not locked up in a contract with a terrible conference. Promote your sports, let us know what is going on, as much as you’d like to think it’s common knowledge that the fans know everything, it’s not. People have lives that move a thousand miles a minute and when you don’t drill into their heads what your product is, they tend to forget, especially when there is nothing more to offer them. The fans at UTEP have been displeased with the two major teams for well over a decade, they have asked for more and have not received it. Dear Future Athletics Director, please remember that YOU are the voice of the University to the fan, do not shut us out and discount our opinions, like has happened in the past, because we are your lifeline and livelihood. Please remember the one thing that has been a constant in sports as far back as sports have had fans. You, the team, the players, and the stadiums are ALL replaceable, the heart, love and fans aren’t.
A Proud but Disgruntled Miner