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    Just saw on the local sports that the UTEP basketball coach resigned today. The first coach mentioned to take his place was Nolan Richardson.

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    UTEP Men's Basketball Coach Jason Rabedeaux Steps Down

    UTEP men's basketball coach Jason Rabedeaux stepped down on Monday, citing personal reasons.

    In three years under Rabedeaux's direction, the Miners posted a 46-46 record.

    UTEP was 13-15 in Rabedeaux's first season (1999-00).

    UTEP finished 23-9 in 2000-01, when the Miners made their first postseason tournament appearance (NIT) since 1995. Rabedeaux was named the WAC Coach of the Year by The Sporting News and Houston Chronicle. He became the first UTEP coach to notch 20 wins in his second year at the helm of the program.

    Last season, UTEP finished 10-22.

    Rabedeaux was an assistant coach at North Adams State (1988-89), Washington State (1989-94) and Oklahoma (1994-99) before being named UTEP's 14th men's basketball coach on Sept. 10, 1999.

    A native of Eau Claire, Wis., Rabedeaux was a four-year basketball starter at the University of California-Davis from 1984-88.

    Transcript From Jason Rabedeaux Press Conference

    JASON RABEDEAUX COMMENTS

    "Since the end of last basketball season and the start of this year's season, at 37 years of age I've had to do a lot of hard thinking about myself and my priorities therein. I've decided today after consultation with Bob [Stull, Director of Athletics] to step down as head men's basketball coach at the University of Texas-El Paso. This decision was not forced upon me. It's not a fired or resigned thing. It's not stepping away from what I think is not going to be a winnable situation. This is a situation that I've reached because I have things in my life that I need to prioritize. And right now at 37 years of age for Jason Rabedeaux, what defense we're in and how many points we score and when the next booster function is are not at the top of my list. I say that knowing that I've had a tremendous opportunity here. I've had the support of a great administration, a wonderful president [Dr. Diana Natalicio] and Richard Adauto. I can't say enough about my athletic director Bob Stull. He is a guy who has stuck with me through thick and thin, through 23 wins and 10 wins. He has been there. I've always said that is the strength of him. He realizes this was a tough situation and a tough decision for me to make, but he has also walked in my shoes and he understands it too. I felt at this time it was in the best interest of our basketball program and our university that a change in leadership be made. It's a difficult decision, but one right now in Jason Rabedeaux's life that he needs to make. This basketball program is going to go forward. We've got a wonderful group of assistant coaches. I've got a group of young men that I can't tell you enough about, how much I've enjoyed coaching. It will move forward.

    "I talked to my team and preached to my team about accountability and responsibility and integrity, and it's important when you talk about those things, that you back them up. This team is going to carry on and go forward. I can't tell you how many wonderful people I've met in the city of El Paso who will remain lifetime friends. I've been able to raise a family here. The media has been tremendously fair. I've also made a lot of friends within your profession as well. El Paso is a great city. It deserves a great basketball program and a head coach who is 100 percent focused on the task at hand. I've come to the decision at 37 years of age that it's probably best if we moved in a different direction.

    "I like El Paso and I enjoy the people here. I've made a lot of good friends here and I would be remiss if I didn't mention coach [Don] Haskins. I don't think I've made a greater friend in terms of an ally and confidante and a mentor than him. He has been tremendous throughout.

    [Was this decision based on personal and family issues?] "Part of it was, but a lot of it was also soul-searching that I had to do. I had to talk to a lot of people. I had to talk to coach [Kelvin] Sampson about things and a lot of different issues that way. The main thing is that the best interest for me is in this basketball program and where it goes from here. The best interest in this basketball program is for a change of leadership at the top. I say that knowing we've got a wonderful assistant coaching staff. And I'll coach again. This isn't a farewell speech in terms of that. But right now I need to prioritize and do some different things.

    "It's not a situation where Bob came in my office and said you're in jeopardy of being fired. He said, 'this is your decision and I respect that.' We haven't talked about details or anything other than that. It's just the best situation right now.

    [Are you concerned about how the fans will react to this as far as the timing, with the number of players who have left the program?] "I think that regardless there's going to be speculation in any one way. And that's why we could've just done a press release and I could have high-tailed it out of town. That's not the deal at all. It's a situation right now in my career where I've got to look at things and step back and see what's best for Jason Rabedeaux and his family, and move forward from there.

    "I talked to the team tonight and they understood and certainly respected my decision. They'll move forward. They'll do a tremendous job, and they will be a fun group of men to watch play this year.

    "Bob and his staff will undoubtedly do the right thing. I obviously think the world of my coaching staff and think they will do a tremendous job and certainly, if nothing else, make it a difficult decision for Bob. El Paso and UTEP couldn't ask for a better athletic director in terms of the direction the entire program is going. It takes time. It's difficult. But UTEP is going to get there, and UTEP isn't going to have any bigger fan than Jason Rabedeaux. Wherever I go and whatever I do, that's the bottom line.

    "When you go through what we went through last year, you think about a lot of things. You start to question yourself in a lot of ways and you lose focus on priorities you need to have to have balance in your life. I can probably that say since the end of last season and as things started to mount a little bit throughout the summer and some of that adversity, you start to think about some things.

    "I don't have another job. I'll stay here for a little bit. I've made a lot of wonderful friends here and El Paso has been a great place for me to live and work.

    "Anything regarding my personal issues is between me and my family. And if anyone asked you about your family, that's your business. I know you can respect that answer.

    "I don't know if it's the toughest decision of my life. The concern you have to have in a situation like this is the impact it's going to have on other people. You can't be selfish. I have to think about my assistant coaches and their families and how it affects the athletic department and the people within. You have to step back and think about a lot of things and decide if what you're doing is best for you and everyone else involved. As I started out the season, I wanted to see where my heart was, what my drive and focus was. It's not what it needs to be right now, quite honestly. Everybody in their life has to take a step back and look at things and prioritize. And right now what the score is and what defense we're in and whether or not we sign this or that recruit is not at the top of my list.

    [On status of the basketball program] "I think it's in good shape. We've got good young players. I like the kids we've worked with thus far. They're not only a group that is going to work very hard, but they're good citizens and character kids. UTEP is always going to attract quality student-athletes and quality coaching candidates. It's a great, great basketball job and whoever steps in and takes over will do a wonderful job.

    [Will any players be leaving?] "These guys are all solid. I've met with them, the assistant coaches and Bob have met with them. They're ready. We've got a game in two and a half weeks and they're ready to go.

    [How will it impact recruiting?] "I think that like our players, the kids we're recruiting will understand and we'll visit with those guys and their coaches. It will impact them somewhat. But we've got five scholarships to give and I know that Junsie, Bobby [Champagne] and Ryan [Carr] will do a good job in terms of filling them.

    BOB STULL COMMENTS

    "Jason has not only been a great employee, but also a great friend. We have had a great relationship. He did things his second year here that no one else has done, winning 20 games. He's certainly going to be a part of UTEP history in a very positive manner. I respect his decision. He came and talked to us this morning about this. I listened to him and told him to think about it and come back this afternoon and be certain that this is what he wanted to do. He was very adamant that this was his decision. As everybody knows, nobody can be more positive and a better representative of this university than Jason has been the last three years.

    [What was your reaction to his decision?] "I was somewhat surprised. Although we are pretty close, he's talked about his focus and things. That decision was not really forthcoming as far as I knew.

    [Do you have anybody in mind?] "It's really late in the season right now. We're getting ready for people to play in the next three weeks. Jason has three really good assistants right now. It would be tough for the players to have a change in staff. I'm appointing [assistant coach] Junsie Cotton as the point person at this point and then we're just going to have to think about this for a few days because it's pretty new. He could become the interim coach, I just haven't had a lot of time to think about this. I'm going to have to do a little more thinking about it.

    "Anybody you hire, you want them to be successful. And he's had some success. A year ago he was listed as one of the top five hottest coaches in the country. He was WAC coach of the year. The fact he has personally decided to focus on other issues I don't think diminishes the success he has had or the success we've had with him. He has decided right now that he has other issues he wants to deal with. I would've expected a better year again this year. We had a lot of situations last year with injuries and various things that happened. Jason has been a good coach with good assistants and I speculated getting better.

    [When will you be able to make a decision on a new coach?] "What we need to do is evaluate our options. We can stay with the coaching staff and name Junsie the interim for the year. Some people will say what about Tim Floyd, Nolan Richardson and Coach Haskins. All three are people you might say, are you interested in being the interim coach? That would be a normal process. But I think all three, quite frankly, would be longshots. Then what about another full-time coach? All head coaches right now are close to starting their season. The thing we don't want to do despite the fact we had a tough season last year, we've had good success and we want to make sure the next person we hire is a good hire.

    "Including Jason's legacy, basketball has been very successful at UTEP. It's a desirable job. Our facility is as nice as any place in the country. We've had winning basketball, including coach Rabedeaux. Whether we hire somebody today, tomorrow or in March, we're going to have more applications than you can put in this room. That's not going to be a problem. We're going to have a lot of choices when we make that decision, including the staff we have.

    "In Jason, we hired one of the top assistants in the country from a program that was in the NCAA Tournament. We had great choices and he was the best. When he interviewed, there wasn't anybody who walked out and didn't think he was the guy. One thing you have to understand with what Jason has done, and I don't think people realize this, is his impact in the community. Nobody is more visible. He speaks four times a week at high schools and banquets. He has been a wonderful representative for us at UTEP. There's no place he speaks at where people don't love him. We got what we wanted to get. Unfortunately, some things have happened that he needs to refocus. Whether we had a bad year last year, I've been a coach a long time and had some bad years. If winning 10 games had been an issue last year, I obviously would have come in and said you're gone Jason. But I'm not like that. You have good years and bad years.

    "The criteria for what we look for has always been a high standard of people who have been through winning programs and understand what it's all about. One of the things we liked when we hired him was he was a GA starting at the bottom, cleaning lockers and going to get stuff for the coaches and breaking down film. And he became the top assistant and was a good recruiter and was on a team that won and knew what it took to get to the NCAA Tournament, and understood the type of players you needed. He met all those criteria.

    [On Don Haskins] "I'm not saying we wouldn't ask him to come back and consult and work with the coaches. I'd love to have him on the bench during games. I'm not sure he would be excited about it. I'm sure our assistant coaches would be thrilled if he was on the bench. I talked to him this afternoon and I let him know up front. He's an all-time Hall of Famer. There are a lot of possibilities. But right now the most logical one is we've got three assistants right now."

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