September 09, 2008
RIP, Don Haskins

Don Haskins, the legendary basketball coach at the University of Texas-El Paso, has died at the age of 78.

Haskins' coaching career took him from Enid, Okla. to basketball immortality with an NCAA championship and enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

During his 38-year reign at Texas Western and UTEP, Haskins became one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history with a 719-353 record, 32 winning seasons, seven Western Athletic Conference championships and 21 postseason trips (14 NCAA, seven NIT).


"The word unique does not begin to describe Don Haskins," former Texas Tech coach Bob Knight said. "There is no one who has ever coached that I respected and admired more than Don Haskins. I've had no better friend that I enjoyed more than Don Haskins."

Haskins was an old-time coach who believed in hard work and was known for his gruff demeanor. That attitude was portrayed in the 2006 movie "Glory Road," the Disney film that chronicled Haskins' improbable rise to national fame in the 1966 championship game against Kentucky. The movie, which was preceded by a book of the same title, also sparked renewed interest in Haskins' career.

"The myth that surrounds Don Haskins in the movie 'Glory Road' and what he did for black players is better said that he cared like that for all his players. To me that tells me more about the man than anything," Knight said. "There was never anyone like him before and there will never be one like him again."


CBS named him the greatest Division I men's basketball coach of all time in July, 2001.

"UTEP - with no recruiting base, no media attention and substandard budgets - had no business winning much of anything," sports columnist Dan Wetzel said. "No coach did more with less, maximized his talent and made strange parts fit better than 'The Bear.'"

I can't put it any better than that. Rest in peace, Don Haskins.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 09, 2008 to Other sports
Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)