As the UTEP Miners men’s basketball team won a pair of big road games last week, very few fans in El Paso had a chance to watch them play since they were not televised. Unless you had a computer or tablet to watch the games online, the only way to have followed UTEP’s road wins was by listening to Jon Teicher and Steve Yellen on IMG College and the Miner Sports Network. The lack of television exposure for the UTEP Athletics programs has prompted fans to request the creation of “Miner TV.”

In the 1980s, Don Haskins and his UTEP Miners was a perennial basketball powerhouse in the Western Athletic Conference, and almost every road game was televised locally. At that time, the major networks did not require their local affiliates to carry all of their primetime shows. As a result, KDBC, KVIA, and KTSM were able to televise UTEP basketball road games during the 1980s and 1990s.

When the networks changed their policy and no longer allowed their affiliates to preempt their prime time lineup, UTEP worked out a deal with Time Warner Cable to televise select road games. Teicher would often deliver the play-by-play of Miner football and basketball games in a radio and TV simulcast. About five years ago, Time Warner restructured its operations and eliminated the positions of all of its El Paso employees who were responsible for airing these home and road UTEP games.

Without local Network and cable television options, what remains for Miner TV? There are three different Spanish television stations that broadcast in El Paso. KINT (Ch. 26), KTDO (CH. 48), and KTFN (Ch. 65) are the Univision, Telemundo, and Unimas affiliates. However, these stations are also committed to their prime time lineups.

That leaves only one realistic possibility, KCOS-TV. The PBS non-profit station is community owned and operated, and has been broadcasting non-commercial educational programs in El Paso since 1978. Like the network stations, KCOS is committed to airing its programming Mondays through Wednesdays. However, UTEP plays its conference road games on Thursdays and Saturdays. If enough people supported the effort and local businesses rallied to financially support the endeavor, it is conceivable that Miner TV could make its debut on KCOS-TV. Until then, UTEP fans need to continue to pressure the university and local businesses to make this a reality.