EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A public memorial service for Willie Cager will be held April 14 at 7 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center at UTEP, Cager’s family told KTSM on Friday.
The family said anyone that would like to pay their respects to Cager was invited to attend the service, which is expected to last around 90 minutes.
As KTSM reported earlier this week, UTEP will cover the costs of Cager’s public memorial service.
“UTEP has informed the Cager family that we will fund the use of Memorial Gym or Don Haskins Center for Willie Cager’s public memorial service. We are honored to host the service, and we are working with the family on the arrangements,” a university spokesperson said in a statement.
Cager’s family will be having a small, private ceremony for the family, but want to allow the public the opportunity to honor and grieve him as well. Plans are still in the works, but the family is eying a mid-to-late April memorial for Cager, because they say it is what he deserves.
A member of the legendary 1966 Texas Western basketball team that broke down racial barriers as the first team with an all-black starting five to win a national championship, Cager settled in El Paso after his playing days were over and became a beacon for the Sun City. He died Sunday on the 57th anniversary of the 1966 championship game.
Representatives for the Cager family initially told KTSM that they were in the process of setting up a fund through a local bank that members of the community would be able to contribute to in order to cover the costs to rent the Haskins Center for Cager’s public memorial. The Haskins Center rental is expected to cost as much as $10,000. Community involvement is no longer necessary after UTEP stepped in.
As a state institution, UTEP is not permitted to “give away” state resources, which includes the rental of facilities, according to state law. However, there are different ways for the school to cover the cost of events, including privately donated funds.