UTEP has always been THAT team for me. Yes I love the Cowboys, the Spurs, Yankees and Texas Tech, but UTEP has been that team I have grown up with. They’re and old friend, the one you haven’t kept in contact with but always check up on through social media to make sure they are ok. However, they’re… well, they’re home and they stay in your heart no matter how bad they treat you.
However in the last few years I’ve seen my home, my old friend go through some tough times. They’ve lost, continually, they’ve had some sloppy breakups and saw the end of their most successful recent relationship come to a “Shocking” end. They’ve had so many people on their side and now, they’ve let down so many people, hardly anyone wants to talk to them anymore, or even show up to their parties.
But here I am, that loyal old dog. The one they don’t bathe as much as they used to, the one that doesn’t get the best food, but some how or the other loves them just as much as he did on day one.
I applied for a position I couldn’t have possibly gotten because I have faith, love and dedication to this team.
Enter Jim Senter. The former Citadel AD now UTEP AD, and there has been a sweeping cultural change. He has tried his best to undo all the negative left over from the Bob Stull Era and looking to give a new lease on life to UTEP. Senter has asked to meet with people to talk about ways to make UTEP better. Or as I would say “Make UTEP Great Again”.
However the problem isn’t Senter’s, the problem lies within the fabric of UTEP. The culture that has been cultivated from the top saying “Athletics aren’t important”. That voice being the woman in charge of UTEP, Dr. Natalicio.
Yes she’s been a transcendent personality in the realm of education, she has made UTEP a Top 10 School, one time in 35+ years. She has brought a spot light to UTEP while shutting off the lights on one side of the university.
There is no way as President of ANYTHING, you can consider one part unimportant. There is something to be said about the way she has handled the athletic department, which accounts for more money than any other department on the campus, and led them to the slaughter house while accepting less than mediocre performances by not only coaches but the previous AD.
Jim Senter will succeed at UTEP because he has a history of success, but his success will only go as far as Dr. Natalicio can let him. As she goes, so goes the Athletics Department and with her ignorance to the notion that athletics generate not only income but student quality of life and love from the city, the future is looking bright, but through a sun shade until she raises it up.
Having said that, Jim Senter’s uphill battle against the machine that is Dr. Natalicio has gained some momentum as he has asked for input from people in El Paso on what the university can do to gain more fans.
This is a tricky concept, El Paso is not full of fair weather fans, but the city is full of fans who want to care. The reason the El Paso Chihuahuas did so well was the access to the fans they made. UTEP has shut their doors and locked out the fans as the wizard behind the curtain pulled the strings and gave us a smoke and mirror show. There was no accountability, UTEP could lose 12 straight basketball games and have THOUSANDS of emails send asking for a change yet the ones highlighted were the dozen or so saying “good job”.
UTEP and El Paso deserve better than what they have received from one another these last few years, and hopefully Jim Senter can be the man to mend that broken bond betwixt the two. I for one am optimistic, but I know the presidential shadow looming over his shoulder is the last major obstacle he will have to face in his Quest to Make UTEP Great Again.