Don Haskins: 1930-2008

By Yolande Lezine
Updated: September 10, 2008

HOUSTON — Former Texas Western head men’s basketball coach Don Haskins died Sunday afternoon at the age of 78. Haskins, who’s team won the 1966 NCAA Championship, was credited with helping break the color barriers in college sports when he used five black starters to win the national title.

Known as a coach who believed in hard work, Haskins turned down several offers, including one with the now-defunct American Basketball Association, to remain at UTEP (University of Texas-El Paso), as one of the lowest paid coaches in the Western Athletic Conference.

Haskins retired in 1999 after 38 seasons at the school. He had a 719-353 record and won seven WAC championships. He took UTEP to 14 NCAA Tournaments and to the NIT seven times and briefly worked as an advisor with the Chicago Bulls.

His health was an issue in his final coaching years, often forcing him to remain seated during games. The program was later handed two NCAA sanctions, but it was serious health concerns that forced his retirement.

Haskins was in the midst of a series of book signings and other appearances when he was hospitalized. After his retirement, he has kept close ties with the Miners.

He will be truly missed, for he was such a great basketball coach.