According to Jon Teicher, the UTEP Miners mens basketball team will honor legendary alum Nolan Richardson by retiring his #42 jersey Sunday at the Don Haskins Center. Richardson will join Bobby Joe Hill (#14) and Jim "Bad News" Barnes (#45), and Nate"Tiny" Archibald (also #14) as the only Miners to have their numbers officially retired. The retiring will take place at halftime of the NMSU game. Tip is slated for 3:00 p.m. MT.
KTSM has some quotes from Richardson and UTEP coach Tim Floyd on the honor:
"I am excited by it, and it's a great honor, I am looking forward to it on Sunday. Of course, we have to beat the Aggies though," said Richardson. UTEP Head coach Tim Floyd added, "He's always remembered for where he came from, and the city's meant a great deal to him, and I think he feels pretty good about the jersey hanging up there for as long as the building will be there."
Richardson was the first black student to ever attend Bowie High School. He grew up in the Segundo Barrio and was a superstar baseball and basketball player for the Bears. Richardson was UTEP's best scorer on the hoops team in 1960 when Harold Davis was the head coach. When Don Haskins came to UTEP in 1961, Richardson's stats declined as the Miners moved to The Bear's grueling, slow, half court offensive attack.
Richardson is also the only basketball coach to ever win a JUCO National Championship, the NIT, and an NCAA Championship. He won the JUCO crown in tiny Snyder, Texas, at Texas Western College. He won the NIT at Tulsa. And of course, he took the Arkansas Razorbacks to the 1994 National Championship.
I've written about this before, but, if you missed it, I highly recommend that any college basketball fan, but especially a UTEP Miner fan, reads Rus Bradburd's book: 40 Minutes of Hell. Bradburd does an exceptional job of chronicling what life was like for Richardson as a black athlete in South El Paso. Miner fans should be fascinated with the love/hate relationship Richardson had with Don Haskins and how his contempt for the Bear's style of play helped inspire his legendary "40 Minutes of Hell" full court blizt that revolutionized college basketball. The book is priced between $5.00 and $10.00 on Amazon.com. It will make an excellent Christmas gift.
While UTEP has only retired four jersey numbers, the Miners also have one "honored" jersey number. The Miners bestowed that honor on Charles Brown, the first black collegiate athlete in the South.. An honored jersey hangs in the rafters at the Don Haskins Center, but can be worn by current players. For more on Brown's honored jersey, check out this article by Bill Knight.
Update: Thanks so much to reader, LJ, for pointing out that Nate Archibald also had his jersey retired by the UTEP Miners. I have updated this post to reflect that fact.