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Dr. Natalicio's thoughts on expansion and UTEP baseball

Q: Are the UTEP Miners going to stay in Conference USA? Certainly for the next year. I’ve learned in athletics that one doesn’t really make predictions. Again, it’s a distraction. But the instability of conferences really does trouble me, because it’s really destabilized intercollegiate athletics in a serious way. We thought for a time there was going to be a merger between Conference USA and Mountain West, and that looked like a very promising strategy. That would have been a very good arrangement for us. Every time you leave a conference, you pay a penalty and when you join a new conference, you have to pay an entry fee, so careless conference changes are very expensive. If you make a mistake… I’m not sure I would have been all that excited about joining the Big East conference. We didn’t really make a big press for that, and if you look at what the Big East was and what it is today and how they are reconstituting themselves, you have to say, "Gee, was it worth it?" Unfortunately, there’s just so much money in intercollegiate athletics. We’re very, very happy to be in Conference USA. We have some great new schools in Conference USA, and it has managed the instability about as well as any conference has. Q: With the addition of Minor League Baseball in El Paso, might there be enough interest for UTEP to bring back a men’s baseball team? Baseball is a game that I absolutely love. Stan Musial’s recent passing was really a sad day, because he was kind of my idol growing up. I used to put 6 on the back of my t-shirts to imitate him. Musial sort of captured for me, and many people in my generation, something very special in baseball. Baseball, like all sports, has changed a lot. The issue with UTEP baseball is really financial. Can we afford to do baseball? And it’s not just about baseball, because if we were to add baseball, we would add so many male athletes then we would have to have an equivalent number of female athletes. Those would both be non-revenue sports, and we just don’t have the money. Intercollegiate athletics has become a much more expensive part of most budgets.
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