Hall of Fame basketball coach Don Haskins, who is credited with helping break color barriers in college sports, said Tuesday he is retiring after 38 seasons with Texas-El Paso.
"This is it. I'm off the hot seat," he said before a news conference. He announced he will not coach this season.
The 69-year-old Haskins, known affectionately to UTEP fans as "The Bear" for his burly physique, made his announcement in the Don Haskins Center, the arena renamed for him in 1997.
Haskins has had health problems in recent years, including a mild heart attack during a game in 1996, which was followed by triple-bypass surgery. Earlier this year, he had a pacemaker implanted.
With a 719-353 career record, Haskins ranks 10th on the victory list among college coaches. His teams won seven Western Athletic Conference titles and made 14 NCAA tournament appearances.
But it was what happened in 1966 that earned Haskins enduring fame.
In the NCAA championship game against top-ranked Kentucky, Haskins who is white sent out an all-black starting lineup. The underdog Miners beat Kentucky's all-white lineup 72-65. Haskins later said he got baskets of hate mail for the decision.
Today, he remains the only men's basketball coach to bring a national title to Texas.
Haskins played at Oklahoma A&M, later Oklahoma State, under coach Henry Iba, another Hall of Famer. Haskins was an unknown Texas high school coach when hired in 1961 by Texas Western, as UTEP was then known.
For nearly four decades, Haskins consistently fielded competitive teams, even when he had only a handful of talented players. In the 1980s, UTEP was a WAC powerhouse and featured, among others, Tim Hardaway.
In the '90s, Haskins' program struggled after twice being slapped with NCAA sanctions.
In 1991, the school was placed on three years' probation when the NCAA found the basketball program violated recruiting rules and that players received improper gifts.
In 1997, UTEP was put on five years' probation for rampant violations of rules in basketball, football and other programs. An investigation found that UTEP used ineligible players and incorrectly certified ineligible players, among other violations.
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