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Coach Don Haskins continues to live on

Photo of courtesy of UTEP Athletics
Photo illustration of the Don Haskins statue set to be unveiled during a prep rally on Feb. 24.

A game changer, mentor, and legend is what El Pasoans would describe legendary Coach Don Haskins and his unforgettable impact on the UTEP community. He was the first coach in history to start five African American players in the 1966 national championship game. He also led the Miners to 719 wins. Don Haskins will now be on the UTEP campus forever in the form of a seven-foot statue.  

The unique bronze figure, donated by Dan and JoAnn Longoria, will depict Haskins in his iconic courtside pose. 

“It has been a remarkable journey to bring Coach Haskins statue to UTEP, a journey fueled by passion and anticipation,” Dan said. “Our hearts are filled with excitement as we prepare to unveil this tribute to the El Paso community.” 

Haskin’s dedication toward athletics, education and students changed the path of athletics at UTEP. Haskins also created equality for student athletes, an influence that still resonates with many generations of Miners. 

UTEP student Briana Rubio expresses how the upcoming statue will be monumental for the university and Haskins’s legacy.   

“I was surprised there wasn’t already something in place to kind of honor him, something that students can physically look at and be reminded of his accomplishments,” Rubio said. “It’s the only title we have at UTEP, so it is a big deal and monumental, his contribution integrated basketball teams for the NCAA.” 

It has been nearly three decades since he graced the sidelines, many still say Haskins was ahead of his time and made breakthroughs in sports for the university. UTEP student Gizelle Durate believes having the statue would allow students to learn more about the long history of UTEP’s basketball program. 

“I’m excited to learn more about the statue,” Durate said. “It’s important for the UTEP community to acknowledge our history that was made here in UTEP and to grow within that and learn our history in basketball,” Durate said.  

In a press release from UTEP, President Heather Wilson, Ph.D., considers the upcoming statue a significant way to honor him and for students to remember his legacy. 

“This statue is a fitting way to honor Don Haskins, a giant in basketball who forever changed the game,” Wilson said. “I’m looking forward to remembering him surrounded by the players he coached and the El Pasoans who cheered him on.”  

Brian Hanlon created the statue and is a trained master sculptor. Hanlon considers creating the sculpture of a beloved basketball icon a rewarding experience.   

“Crafting the sculpture of Don Haskins for UTEP was a profound experience,” Hanlon said. “Our goal was to capture the intensity of Coach Haskins on the court leading his athletes to victory.”  

The university will unveil the unique seven-foot statue Feb. 24 in a prep rally celebrating the legendary coach and his career outside the Don Haskins Center. The event will be open to the public so people can memorialize and honor the coach who forever brought in a new era for basketball at UTEP. 

Erik Acosta is the editor-in-chief and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributor
Erik Acosta, Editor-in-Chief
Erik Acosta is the editor-in-chief for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in theatre. He plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism and print with hopes of working at LA times, Washington Post and ABC News.
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