EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14/CBS4) — A new tribute to legendary El Paso men's basketball coach Don Haskins is coming to the University of Texas at El Paso. A seven-foot metal statue of Haskins in an iconic "bear hug" pose will be placed in front of the Don Haskins Center at UTEP.
The estimated 1,200-pound statue is a gift from Mattress Firm Owner Dan Longoria and his wife JoAnn.
It will be sculpted by Artist Brian Hanlon and is anticipated to be completed by late fall.
Hanlon first rose to national prominence with the installation of “Olympian” in the 1990s. He also has created statues of Jackie Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Yogi Berra, Evander Holyfield and others.
Haskins, nicknamed “The Bear," was head coach of Texas Western College men’s basketball from 1961 to 1999. He led the Miners to 719 wins, as well as a national title in 1966, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and seven Western Athletic Conference championships.
On March 19, 1966, Haskins became the first coach ever to start a lineup of five black players at the major college level. The Miners captured the NCAA title by beating Kentucky, 72-65, for the championship.
He passed away on Sept. 7, 2008, at the age of 78.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved the statue of Haskins at its meeting on May 4.
Hanlon anticipates the value of preliminary design work and the ultimate statute to be $125,000. Longoria will contract with Hanlondirectly and then gift the work to UTEP, according to the Board of Regents agenda.
UTEP's facilities and maintenance department has developed a budget, which includes structural engineering consultation, lighting, and landscaping for a cost of $39,460, the agenda stated.
UTEP plans to secure private philanthropy to complete the project. In the event that further resources are needed, departmental funds will be made available.
Some El Pasoans on the UTEP campus said they are happy to see a statue be placed in honor of Haskins.
"I think they should've done it when he was alive, to be honest. He should've been able to see the statue of him for all the greatness he had done for over thirty years," said Ritchie Sepulveda,
"It's about time and it's a great idea. It's a good move," said Joaquin Dominguez.
One woman said the statue will help shed a positive light on El Paso.
"It's always good to get recognition here, our city needs to be known for the good things that we have," said Paola Castaneda
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