EL PASO, Texas - Fans and sports enthusiasts around the Valley were shocked to learn of UTEP football coach Sean Kugler's resignation on Sunday.
"If you're a Miner fan, this has been a tough last couple years," said Steve Kaplowitz, host of "Sportstalk" on 600 ESPN El Paso.
"It's kinda sad," said Joe Marquez, who was watching football at Brass Monkey on Sunday. "I wanted this guy to really succeed."
"You don't just give up on your own team, especially a team like UTEP," said Nathan Mendoza, who was also at the bar. "You try to strive for greatness. You don't give up."
In a news release, Senior Associate Athletic Director Jeff Darby said Kugler's resignation was effective immediately. Kugler's resignation follows UTEP's loss to the Army Black Knights Saturday.
In a statement, Kugler says he met with UTEP's soon-to-be-retired Athletic Director Bob Stull about the decision.
“After meeting with Coach Bob Stull and discussing my future and the future of this program, we mutually agreed the best thing is for me to step down as the head coach. My love for UTEP is in my heart forever, and my love for all the players that I have coached here is even stronger. We have accomplished many things together -- a bowl appearance in 2014, a perfect APR score, the highest gpa in team history and countless players getting their degrees. I am so proud of my players and their behavior off the field representing El Paso as great ambassadors in community service," Kugler said.
Future plans for the UTEP's football program will be announced Monday at the weekly football media luncheon.
“I would like to thank Coach Stull and Dr. Diana Natalicio for this great opportunity,” Kugler said. "I would like to thank the miner fans who I love for all your support throughout my career as a player, assistant and head coach. I am proud to be a miner for life."
“We really appreciate the dedication and hard work that Coach Kugler has brought to this program, and we are proud of the accomplishments during his tenure as head coach," Bob Stull said. After a long discussion, we have agreed that it is best for him and the program that he step down. Sean will always be a miner and we wish him the best in his coaching future."
Kugler promised to step down at National Signing Day 2014 if he hadn't turned the program around in three years, Kaplowitz said.
"Sean Kugler is a man of his word," Kaplowitz said. "He might have just decided, 'You know what? It's time. I don't see us turning this season around, so I will step away.'"
This season, the Miners have started 0-5. Kugler concludes his UTEP tenure with a record of 18-36, including an 11-22 mark in conference USA play. He led the Miners to a winning season in 2014 (7-6) and a Berth in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
Kaplowitz had several predictions for who might be UTEP's next interim coach:
- Tom Mason - UTEP's Defensive Coordinator
- Brian Natkin - UTEP's Assistant Coach
He also had a few surprise picks:
- Bob Stull - UTEP's soon-to-be-retired Athletic Director
- Mike Price - Former UTEP Coach
"Miner fans right now are going through a really tough time," Kaplowitz said. "They're waiting to see who their new director of athletics is going to be. Now they need a new football coach."