Battle of I-10 will be minus opposing cheerleaders again

EL PASO, Texas - The basketball version of the Battle of I-10 dates back to 1914.

For the most part, cheerleaders from both UTEP and New Mexico State have always been there, no matter where it was played.

The Miners travel to Las Cruces Friday to face the Aggies in a game marking the 100th year of the storied rivalry. But just like last year, UTEP's cheerleaders will not be in attendance. And next weekend, when the Aggies come to El Paso, their cheerleaders won't make the trip either.

It's been one of the most-heated basketball rivalries in the country for the past century. But last year, a decades-long tradition came to an end. Cheerleaders from UTEP didn't travel to Las Cruces and cheerleaders from New Mexico State didn't travel to El Paso. It's all because of a recent agreement between the squad's coaches.

ABC-7 spoke with UTEP cheerleading coach David Vasquez. He said the problem is with space at the Don Haskins Center. Vasquez said his team is about 30 cheerleaders strong, which leaves limited room for the Aggie cheerleaders.

"The problem is here not there," Vasquez said. "They can accommodate us there, but we can't accommodate them here. We can't give a whole side of the court to them. Because of that, we decided it would be more fair if we didn't travel to each others' games."

Jessica Covington is the head cheerleading coach at New Mexico State.

"We're actually very friendly programs to each other," Covington said. "It's just unfortunate we aren't able to supply adequate space for both teams. If we don't supply adequate space for one group it's only fair we don't supply it for both groups."

Despite there being space at the Pan Am Center, UTEP's cheerleaders won't be there on Friday ... nor anytime soon.

"It is unfortunate," she said. "We would love to be able to go down there and have UTEP come down here. Hopefully in the future we'll be able to find an agreement so that both teams receive accommodations."

ABC-7 did speak by text with UTEP athletic director Bob Stull about the situation this week. He said the agreement is up to the cheer squads and coaches.

Fans ABC-7 spoke with from both schools said they hope something can be worked out soon -- if not in time for this year's battle of I-10 series -- than by next year's meetings.

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