After the Town Hall with 600 ESPN El Paso and an #EPMAD press conference today, UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter has been catching locals up with the progress that the department has made in the recent months.

Leading up to the 2018-19 athletic year, Senter spoke on meeting with the UTEP fan council, talked about the C-USA partnership with ESPN, touched on the importance for the new men’s basketball schedule and more.

 

So if you need some catching up with UTEP athletics, here’s what’s going on:

ESPN to Stream 11 UTEP Football Games; More Sports in the Future

Conference USA Commissioner Judy MacLeod announced a multi-year contract with ESPN last, which will include more than 175 sporting events on ESPN+ and ESPN3 for the upcoming 2018-19 athletic season.

For UTEP fans, this will mean airing five UTEP home games on ESPN networks, including games against Northern Arizona (Sept. 1/ESPN3/5:30 p.m. MT), NMSU (Sept. 22/ESPN3/5:30 p.m. MT), UAB (Oct. 27/ESPN+/5:30 p.m. MT), Middle Tennessee (Nov. 10/ESPN+/1 p.m. MT) and Southern Miss (Nov. 24/ESPN+/1 p.m. MT).  BeIN SPORTS will show UTEP's home game versus North Texas (Oct. 6/5:30 p.m. MT). For their away games, ESPN will air games against Tennessee (Sept. 15/SEC Network/10 a.m. MT), UTSA (Sept. 29/ESPN+/5 p.m. MT), LA Tech (Oct. 20/ESPN+/1:30 p.m. MT), Rice (Nov. 3/ESPN3/1:30 p.m. MT) and WKU (Nov. 17/beIN SPORTS/5:30 p.m. MT).

At the Town Hall yesterday, Senter indicated that the department will hire an in-house broadcaster to call play-by-play for the games streamed by ESPN. Senter also alluded to the possibility of more basketball games being streamed in the future as well. 

C-USA Formulates New, Innovative C-USA Men’s Basketball Schedule

In attempt to strengthen the chances for teams in C-USA to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the league approved a new scheduling formula for men’s basketball. The new schedule will make an 18-game schedule, where 14 teams will play each team once and their travel partner twice, and the final four opponents will be determined based on the league’s standings at the end of the 14 games.

This means that the top five teams will be grouped and play each other once to boost their RPIs. Then, the sixth through 10th place teams will do the same, while the 11th through 14th placed teams will face off in the final two weeks.

“It’s a shame,” said Senter at the Town Hall in regards to mid-major schools being left out of the NCAA Tournament. “Not just in our conference, but in other conferences too. We want to make sure our guys play the best teams they can.”

In regards to fan’s request to move out of the C-USA, Senter continues to stay firm with the league, saying “We’re in Conference USA; that’s our conference and our goal is to win championships.”

Engagement with Community and Fans

A lot of fans at Town Halls expressed their desire in making UTEP more engaged within the community by means of fan interaction, in-game involvement, solving tailgating issues and creating more traditions. While the practicalities of some of these demands by fans have been unclear, Senter and the department has made new initiatives and continue to promote the #EPMAD slogan across the town.

#EPMAD (if you’ve been living under a rock) stands for “Every Person Makes A Difference” and has been the cornerstone of Senter’s revitalization within the athletic department.

“We understand that part of making games fun is when you win more games,” Senter said at the Albertsons presser. “We need to add traditions that transcend regardless of who’s leading our program.”

Some other engagement points he made regarded the importance of continuing to engage the east side more with UTEP, wants to be more accessible with the community and hopes to build a Spanish-speaking fan base with more interaction.

New fan programs were announced, such as a “Kid’s Club,” which will offer a free and paid membership for children. The free membership will include free admission to all Olympic sporting events (soccer, track and field, etc.), while the $30 paid membership will give children free admission to football, men’s and women’s basketball games with a purchase of an adult ticket. Both memberships offer opportunities for children to get on-court experiences.

A UTEP “Fan Fest” was also announced, which will be a free event before games, suitable for families. It will begin at UTEP’s season opener against Northern Arizona from 2-5 p.m. located in the Memorial Gym parking lot facing Glory Road and Randolph Drive.