The Prospector Sports Weekly Podcast – UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter


Editor’s note: The Prospector got a chance to sit down with new UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter and have him talk with us about all he has to bring to UTEP. Check out what he told us here and listen to the full podcast interview on The Prospector Daily’s SoundCloud account. 

Q: Now that you’re settled in, how does it feel to be in the Sun City?

A: Well, I’ve told people it’s like taking a drink out of a firehouse. There’s a lot of information coming at you, a lot of people to meet… I followed about 500 new UTEP fans in the last week. It’s gone great; people have been so welcoming. I love this feeling that everyone has when meeting me saying, “welcome to El Paso, welcome to UTEP.” It really makes me feel like they care.” 

Q: We’ve seen you being very interactive with fans. Can you talk about the breath of fresh air you bring to UTEP?

A: Going up to people and saying hi—I think they genuinely appreciate that. I don’t know a single human being who doesn’t appreciate to being recognized or appreciated. That’s one of the things I’m trying to do. What’s really cool about this is the fact that people always want to tell you, “I’ve had these seats for 30 years,” ”‘I’ve had these seats for 40 years—50 years,” “I watched the 1966 team when they were here.” What they’re really saying is they love the Miners and they’re proud to be here. It just reaffirms what I thought all along and when I interviewed that there’s a great fan base here. 

Q: Any thoughts on upgrading the facilities like the Sun Bowl or Don Haskins Center?

A: Any day you aren’t working on facilities, you’re going behind because your competitors are. I think we have a good foundation for facilities. For example, the Larry K. Durham has been here for a while. That building was built when we had almost eight less people than now. We just added our 10th coach. We have to design facilities, build facilities that are forward thinking. Some of the things–obviously the Sun Bowl—it’s in dire need of some work. It’s a 60 to 70-year-old facility and we’ll be announcing some things in March or April, where we’re going to be doing some enhancement on that. It will make all fans excited. 

Q: Thoughts on UTEP performing in the Mountain West Conference in the future?

A: I can appreciate why fans long for the good ol’ days with the Mountain West Conference because there’s 50-60 years of history there.  But for us to be attractive to anyone else, we need to be really good in the league we’re in. If you look all over America, when there’s conference realignment, the teams at the bottom of every conference are not the ones moving around. It’s the ones who are at the top. The Miner fans who want us to move, we have to first dominate the one we’re in. I totally get it why people want to be in it. For expenses and budget, it would be better in that regard. At the end of the day, I know what conference we’re in and let’s get after it. 

Q: El Paso has a rich history in baseball. Is a Miner baseball team a possibility?

A: As much as I would like to see a baseball team here, I don’t see it in the immediate future, no. If I have four kids and I don’t take care of them, don’t get them health care, don’t take them to the doctor, not putting money aside for college—if I was to say, “gosh honey, let’s have more kids,” most people would look at us and think we’re irresponsible. They would say we aren’t taking care of the kids we have now. That’s my analogy when people ask if we should get another sport for that matter. 

Q: After Tim Floyd announced he would retire, you said this would be a tryout for interim head coach Phil Johnson, how has he been doing?

A: First, let me say I really appreciate Tim Floyd as a head coach and what he did with us. You don’t know how that affects players, coaches and team chemistry, well now that’s all been moved around. I think coach Johnson has done a good job with what he has, but I think they’ve been competitive.

Q: With the release of UTEP adopting a new orange, what are your overall thoughts about the change?

A: As I understand, the university had been working on one shade of orange and athletics had been working on another shade of orange. I don’t know where the disconnect there was, but the institution said we are moving to a lighter shade of orange—kind of reminds me of Tennessee orange. My sense is that any time you change something that is based off tradition, some will be excited, and others will be mad because you are changing who we are. We are going to follow what the university asks us. We aren’t going to throw away all the orange uniforms and spend a million dollars buying new uniforms, but we will phase out the old ones. 

Q: What are some ways we can bring more students to the games, especially since attendance has been bad?

A: I met with Kristen Ahumada, the student body president (SGA), and I want to hold a student town hall. We need to find out what it’s going to take to get students there. I’m sure we’re going to hear a lot of things. I think people have very busy lives these days. Also, when we aren’t winning, there isn’t a lot of energy going into the games. My next guess is we aren’t doing enough marketing for students going to the games, so they don’t know what’s happening. That’s where we can partner with different student groups… because it takes a village to tell a story. So many people are consuming their content different ways. I’m from the old school, where we pick up a paper or watch the news. You all are getting your information through hundreds of different mechanisms. The traditional way of marketing isn’t going to reach the student. We need to find out how we can connect with the student and bring them out. 

Q: Any hope of seeing an ACC/Big Ten game home or away? 

A: I get this question a lot. Basketball scheduling is very difficult because no one wants to leave their stadiums to visit anyone—that’s why some of these teams have great records. For football, the biggest challenge, even doing a home-and-home game, they are drawing 40,000 people a game consistently. They’re different than Texas that has 90,000 in their arena. If we were to do a home and home, they are going to make a lot more money than we would. They would rather just pay someone money to come year after year.

Listen to the rest of the interview on Soundcloud above.