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Jim Senter on board to resurrect athletic program

Jim+Senter+on+board+to++resurrect+athletic+program

If you ask an average student on campus what they’re doing on a Saturday evening in the fall when there’s a UTEP football game going on, most would say they are doing the exact opposite of going to the game.

This tiny examination of the student body’s view on the football team brings a deeper and harsher problem that has boiled over in the athletics department.

Frankly, this is the worst place the school’s athletic department has been in for decades.

To a student, this doesn’t mean much due to the lack of student involvement in games, but what they don’t realize is that an athletic department is not just a fun incentive for the university and its community, but it’s also a necessary department that can help improve overall academics.

Forbes magazine did a recent study on how athletic performance by a school raises the interest of students with that particular university. They found that when a team goes from mediocre to good, applications to the school increase on an average of 18.7 percent. They also found that when these same schools get a large increase in applications like this, it either helps to lower tuition prices or increase funding for more faculty members. Lastly, schools with better athletic success tend to be more selective with their applicants, thus allowing for more prestige with the degree, according to the study.

The bottom line is that a boost in athletics means that UTEP can see a positive increase in areas such as academia and student engagement.

When Jim Senter decided to take the job as the head of UTEP’s athletic department, he took on the burden to salvage what’s left of the program.

Senter comes with 17 years of experience working in the administrative side of athletics, including three years as athletic director of The Citadel (2014-2017). 

Most people who care for the UTEP athletic program will want immediate attention placed on the football team, like hiring a head coach and a new staff. But the problems don’t just start there.

When Senter arrives to the program and starts to evaluate each coach and sport, he might not like what he sees.

He will have to evaluate Tim Floyd’s vacant head coaching position for the men’s basketball team, with Floyd announcing his retirement minutes after the team lost its fifth straight to Lamar, 66-52. Floyd has put up a 135-81 record with UTEP since his hiring in 2010, with two NIT spots and no NCAA tournament bids. 

He will be tasked with the hard choice of either continuing the direction of the volleyball and softball teams, who have been sub-par for the past years, or to revitalize these programs that have not gained the attention they should. Volleyball and softball haven’t had a winning season since 2012 and 2010, respectively.

He needs to look at the marketing situation at UTEP, which he does have experience with at The Citadel, and try to help increase ailing ticket sales. Although UTEP is still near the middle of the conference in most attendances for sports, fan engagement could be a lot better.

One solution is clear though, and it’s to convince the higher-ups, like President Diana Natalicio, to allocate more funds and give Senter a larger budget to find head coaches, which will evidently translate to a better overall program.

He doesn’t need to immediately hire the first name that applies but can weigh out the positives and negatives within each applicant and find the best fit for the program. During his time at The Citadel, he hired five head coaches, one being that of football, so he definitely has experience in doing so.

Another problem solver is to allow students to take more of the reins on the marketing side. The College of Business and the media advertising department have a good amount of students, so why not appeal to them with more chances and opportunities to get involved and also help the program increase its revenue?

Lastly, he needs to figure out some sort of way to bring back the pride for UTEP athletics. When alumni come to speak at UTEP, they’ll usually mention going to the amazing basketball games in the past, which gives them a sense of pride to be a Miner. Nowadays, there’s not much to brag about in athletics, despite a couple pro athletes who’ve gone on to make a name for themselves on a national scale. Winning games in major sports will bring that pride back. 

One thing is for certain though, if he can get the UTEP athletic program out of its current state, he will be highly regarded, not only across the community but even nationwide.

Follow Adrian Broaddus on Twitter @adrian_broaddus

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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Jim Senter on board to resurrect athletic program