July 1 will be an important day for the Charlotte 49ers as it will be their first back in Conference USA. So running until the 30th, we’re taking a look at all the C-USA teams going in alphabetical order-from ECU to UTSA. We’ll also profile the affiliate members (Kentucky, New Mexico and South Carolina-men’s soccer; Colorado College-women’s soccer).
UTEP came over from the WAC in 2005 and has had a presence in C-USA ever since. Making the move with them was Rice, SMU and Tulsa; the latter two are bound for the American Athletic Conference (SMU in a few days and Tulsa next year).
Sport-by-sport year in review:
Football (2-6, 3-9)
Home Field: Sun Bowl Stadium
It wasn’t all that good a year for Mike Price and his squad as they struggled once more, a common theme in recent years. Price has retired and has been replaced by former NFL offensive line coach Sean Kugler, who returns to his alma mater after stints with Boise State, the Bills and the Steelers.
Men’s Basketball (18-14, 10-6)
Home Court: Don Haskins Center
After a 25-win season and an NIT bid in 2010-11, the Miners followed it up with a 15-17 record the next year but improved on that this past season. Julian Washburn was named a third-team all-C-USA selection as well as an All-Defensive Team pick. UTEP has won a national title–as Texas Western back in 1966, the first time a team with an all-African-American starting lineup won the tournament.
Women’s Basketball (22-10, 8-8)
Home Court: Don Haskins Center
The women fell a couple games short of the NCAA tournament this time around after making it there in 2011-12. Anete Steinberga, a big part of that NCAA tournament team a year ago, finished her collegiate career as an All-C-USA first team pick, while senior-to-be Kayla Thornton, who broke the 1,000 point barrier in the last game of the year, was a second team selection.
UTEP does not field a baseball team.
Softball (13-35, 2-21)
Home Field: Helen of Troy Softball Complex
It was a season to forget on the softball team for the Miners, who only managed two wins in C-USA while losing eighteen in a row at one point. They’ll bring in Tobin Echo-Hawk, the former Portland State coach, in an effort to turn their fortunes around.
Men’s Soccer (N/A)
UTEP does not field a men’s soccer team.
Volleyball (16-13, 10-6) was a one-and-done in the C-USA tournament this year. They returned to the tournament after missing out last year…Women’s soccer (10-10-0, 3-8-0) opened with a 7-2-0 non-league slate but couldn’t maintain the momentum going in to C-USA play. They suffered four straight shutout losses to end the year…Men’s golf finished in 7th at the C-USA Championships. Jere Pelletier was the top finisher for the Miners, placing 14th overall…Women’s tennis, who won 12 matches (their most since 2009), saw their season end in the opening round of the C-USA tournament against SMU…In track and field, Kenya native Anthony Rotich ended a terrific season as the national champion in the 3000m steeplechase. As a team, the men won the C-USA championship (the women were sixth); the squads combined sent five athletes (including Rotich) and a relay team to the NCAA championships…Cross country saw Rotich’s fellow Kenyan, Risper Kimaiyo, win the C-USA and NCAA Mountain Regional meets, followed by a fifth-place finish in the national championship. Rotich, for the men, won the C-USA meet, took second in the men’s regional race and 4th nationally.