UTEP AD Jim Senter: ‘We Do Not Plan on Cutting Any Sports’
As college athletic programs across the country continue to be hit financially due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Miners' athletic department might be free from any programs being cut.
UTEP President Dr. Heather Wilson and Director of Athletics Jim Senter joined SportsTalk on Monday to provide updates on how the school is operating amid the pandemic and coming up with contingency plans as the 2020-21 academic year approaches.
"We do not plan on cutting any sports right now," Senter said. "We have the minimum number of sports right now to be a Division I institution. So, we have a total of 16 and we have no plans to cut sports. We'll have to make some decisions and tighten our belt in some areas which will affect all of sports, but not any one sport. I'm really glad we're not in a position where we have to cut any of our individual sports."
Other Conference USA affiliates, such as Florida International (men's indoor track) and Old Dominion (wrestling), have already started scaling back and dissolving certain programs during this time.
"I think you will see more programs across the country actually cutting sports if they have the capacity and room to do that," Senter said.
Last week, Wilson joined 12 other university leaders, Vice President Mike Pence and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a college-wide discussion for returning safely to school in the fall.
UTEP shifted to online classes in late March and plans to hold online courses through the summer. However, Wilson aims to have students back in person with certain modifications. Wilson told SportsTalk that she is working with departments to determine which courses need to meet in person, versus those that could be online only. There also could be "hybrid" courses that meet both in-person and online, according to Wilson.
Wilson and Senter will join NCAA President Mark Emmert on a college-wide phone conference call in June which should help provide more direction for athletics returning in the fall.
"We want to plan like we're going to have a football season and all of our fall sports will play," Senter told 600 ESPN El Paso.
As far as fans attending games, Senter left the option up for the decisions of state and local leadership. Also, the Sun Bowl press box and captains club renovations are still on schedule, according to Senter.
For the coming months, the message from the school is clear: UTEP wants to be prepared to adapt to any changes both in academics and athletics.
"We're going to have to be agile and assess the circumstances and give ourselves a lot of planning runway so we can adapt if we need to," Wilson said.