EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Joe Golding’s resume to be the new UTEP basketball coach was arguably the best of anyone that applied for the job.
Of course, he led Abilene Christian to a win over Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, after totally turning the program around over the last decade. But it’s his passion and energy for UTEP and El Paso that is clearly unmatched. As a west Texas kid, he’s right at home in the Sun City.
“Growing up, I would turn the tv on and see this place packed and always wanted to be a UTEP Miner,” Golding said.
UTEP’s 20th head coach already has a deep connection to the program’s rich history, and to the foundation laid by the legendary Don Haskins.
“I understand everything he was about. I’ve watched Glory Road about 100 times,” Golding said. “I had my photo taken next to the national championship trophy and got goose bumps and almost cried.”
A classy individual, Golding opened his press conference by offering condolences to the family of Alvin Jones Sr., the beloved father of Aaron and Alvin Jones, who passed away from COVID-19 last week. He also plugged the GoFundMe page for former Miner Daryl Edwards, who was severely injured in a car wreck in Houston last week.
A tough, defensive-minded coach who is a self-described family man, Golding feels a kinship to the city of El Paso, making him an easy choice.
“It just felt like coach Golding was the best fit, for all the things that he’s done, and his ties to Texas and to west Texas. Coming to El Paso isn’t going to be a surprise for him,” UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter said.
Now that he’s arrived, the real work begins returning the Miners back to prominence. Golding built Abilene Christian from nothing, but recruiting to UTEP will be much easier, and there’s already a solid foundation.
“We found a niche at ACU that worked for us. So we recruited to that model and played to that model. But UTEP’s a different deal. So we’ll recruit the best players and then figure out what they do best on both sides of the floor,” Golding said.
Most importantly, Golding knows the pressure is on to get UTEP back to the Big Dance after an 11-year absence. He doesn’t shy away from it.
“This community wants to get the Don back fired up and the seats filled and the energy in here, and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Golding. “I don’t think it’s going to take long.”
Time will tell if Golding can indeed turn the program around and take UTEP back to the tournament, but the early returns are good. He won his press conference, and he’s already won the fan base over, inviting them to Lucy’s Cafe on Mesa down the street from the Haskins Center on Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. to meet fans, and learn more about the storied program.