Fan support is a sham

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Fan support is a sham

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

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With the great postseason run of the UTEP women’s basketball team, I couldn’t help but think to myself how phony the fan support felt.

As the Miners advanced round by round, the attendance numbers steadily increased. So much so that there were record-setting crowds for the quarterfinals to the championship game.

The women were responsible for the first official sellout since Tim Floyd’s first game as the head coach of the men’s basketball team in 2010. Even better, the women had back-to-back sellouts, which is something that had  not been done since March 2010.

I am elated for coach Keitha Adams and the women’s basketball team, they had a great season and they deserved the support.

But from my perspective, I can’t help but call B.S. on the record-setting crowds. I have watched the women’s basketball team all season long.

I was there when there were 1,500 people in the stands. I was there when they beat Kansas State by 45 points. I was there when the team was 10-0 and their average margin of victory was 24.8 points per game.

Where was everyone else at the beginning, middle and end of the regular season when they were the exact same team?

The answer is the same as it always is, the city of El Paso—and UTEP especially—is full of “bandwagoners.” This is the only conclusion I can come to.

There were no sellout crowds for the 2006-07 women’s team that went 16-2 at home. There was no sellout for the 2007-08 team that went undefeated at home and in conference, and made the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

I hate to be the Russian judge, so to speak, but when I see coach Adams graciously thanking the city of El Paso for the love and support after each win, I can’t help but think that our community is very ungrateful. It makes me a little sick because there were very few people at the Don Haskins Center that deserved the thanks of coach Adams.

In reality, coach Adams does not owe the city of El Paso anything. It is actually the other way around.

She turned around a horrid program that was plagued with losing season after losing season. There was no UTEP women’s basketball before she came here. A region that has more than one million people and can’t fill even half of a 12,000-seat arena on a consistent basis is something to be ashamed about.

Adams has gone above and beyond the call to make the women’s basketball team a great program. UTEP is lucky to have a great coach like Adams, and even more lucky that she signed a six-year contract to stay at UTEP. She has every reason to leave and go coach at a bigger and better program, with more support. If she did leave, you couldn’t blame her.

UTEP students carry most of the blame. The total enrollment for the 2013-14 school year was more than 23,000. Not once before the start of the Conference USA championships was the student section filled, which is terribly sad because the tickets for UTEP students are free.

It’s not like the women’s basketball team is embarking on unseen territory. They have been doing this for the past eight years. At the end of the day, the city of El Paso—and the so-called UTEP fans—missed out big time.

El Paso native Kayla Thornton basically broke every record in school history and became one of the greatest, if not the greatest, player in school history. Not to mention, this was the most winningest class in school history.

Hopefully I am wrong and next season the support for the women’s basketball team will keep growing, but I’m pretty sure the days of only 2,000 people in the Haskins is not too far away. I’m not a cynic, I’m just a realist.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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