Oct 22, 2002
By CHRIS ROBERTS
Associated Press Writer
EL PASO, Texas (AP) - Basketball was no longer as important as it once was to Jason Rabedeaux, so he resigned as coach at Texas-El Paso.
"I have things in my life that I need to prioritize," Rabedeaux said Monday. "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."
Rabedeaux, who replaced Hall of Fame coach Don Haskins in 1999, led the Miners to a 46-46 record in three seasons. The Miners went 23-9 in 2000-01, their best record in nine years, but slipped to 10-22 last season. In November, Rabedeaux received a two-year contract extension through 2007.
"It's not a fired or resigned thing," he said, declining to provide further details on the reasons for his decision.
The Miners play their first exhibition game on Nov. 9 and start the regular season against New Mexico Highlands on Nov. 23. Rabedeaux said he waited until a few weeks before the team's first game to see if he had the proper focus.
"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," the 37-year-old coach said.
UTEP athletic director Bob Stull and Rabedeaux said the team has a solid crew of assistant coaches and they don't believe any players will leave because of the change. "They're ready," Rabedeaux said.
Stull said he was surprised when Rabedeaux informed him of the decision Monday morning. He gave the coach a chance to reconsider. Stull said he hadn't had time to choose an interim coach but would not rule out asking Haskins to come back temporarily.
He also mentioned former Chicago Bulls coach Tim Floyd and former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson. Floyd is a former assistant to Haskins, and Richardson played for Haskins at UTEP.
"All three, quite frankly, would be long shots," Stull said.
Stull said he informed Haskins of the coaching change Monday afternoon. Neither Haskins nor Richardson immediately returned telephone messages left at their homes by The Associated Press.
Rabedeaux was an aide to current Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson for 10 years. He worked on Sampson's staff at Washington State from 1989-94, then followed Sampson to Norman, Okla. Rabedeaux said he consulted Sampson before making his decision.