It has been a difficult few months for Jim Senter and the UTEP Athletic Department. Most of his student athletes returned home during the spring semester and they finished their coursework online while training on their home. Now, they are slowly making their way back to campus. "We are starting to repopulate campus in anticipation of getting our student athletes back, Senter told 600 ESPN El Paso today. "I know there are a lot of athletes that didn't want us to close campus to begin with." UTEP will conduct a training session and Zoom call tomorrow night with student athletes and their parents. Once they take a COVID-19 test, they will need to wait three to five days for the results. As soon as their test comes back negative, the athletes will be able to begin their voluntary training sessions.

As for UTEP's return compared to the rest of Conference USA, Senter said that they are right in the sweet spot. The Miners Director of Athletics said that very few schools were ready to return by June 1st and more are coming back today and on June 15th. However, Rice might not bring athletes back until later this summer because the COVID-19 situation in Houston has been worse than other C-USA cities.

Next Monday, 45 football players are expected back on campus for voluntary workouts. UTEP plans on adding about 30 student athletes each week. Football, soccer, and volleyball will be the first to return. By the week following the 4th of July, the majority of UTEP's football players will be back on campus. The Miners' winter and spring athletes will be the last to come back. However, instead of 50 athletes listing weights at the Larry Durham Center, 15 to 18 people will be the new norm because of social distancing.

UTEP Athletics.
UTEP Athletics.

Before long, it will be September and the start of the 2020-21 season. Senter told us that the renovation plans for the Sun Bowl are still on track and should be completed by the home opener against Texas Tech. Despite many people worried a few weeks ago about college football being played with little to no fans, that it not the case now for the Sun Bowl and other stadiums in Texas. "As long as we don't see something crazy happen with this virus, we will be at 50 percent at a minimum--and it might be higher than that," Senter said. If everybody keeps doing a good job in our community and practices social distancing, wearing face coverings, washing their hands, those kinds of things can't be overstated."

The biggest message that Senter stressed to El Paso sports fans is to support Miner Athletics. "Regardless of the situation we're in, we need El Pasoans to come out and support us more than we've ever needed them before. We need them to buy tickets, become Miner Athletic donors and support our student-athletes with scholarship support. We need people to help us out right now in college athletics."

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