EL PASO, Texas - Everybody in El Paso calls our university ?UTEP.? It?s a strong name. It rolls off the tongue, it?s the identity UTEP wants.
So why do USA Today newspaper and several other national media outlets still refer to UTEP as Texas-El Paso?
The link to El Paso is great. But Texas-El Paso is not what we call our university, particularly in athletics.
Late last year, Brian Wickstrom, UTEP?s senior associate athletic director, wrote a letter to David Henke, president and publisher of USA Today, questioning why the second-largest daily in the country constantly refers to UTEP as ?Texas-El Paso.?
Wickstrom pointed out that ESPN calls the school UTEP. So does the Associated Press. He questioned why UCLA and TCU get to go by their initials and UTEP does not.
Wickstrom wrote that UTEP now has more than 22,000 students and offers 81 bachelor, 86 master?s and 17 doctoral degrees, with more in development.
With over $60 million in annual spending, UTEP is dedicated to becoming one of Texas? next national research, or tier-one, universities.
Wickstrom wrote: ?During this drive to become a tier-one institution, it is critical that we are recognized by a single national identity ? UTEP. Recognizing UTEP as UTEP consistently in every sports media venue is critical in achieving this goal.?
Brian received a call from the USA Today sports editor, Monte Lorell.
Lorell says the newspaper?s goal is to interest the general newspaper reader. The editor believes that many Americans don?t know what UTEP stands for, and thus using Texas-El Paso is necessary.
Lorell did offer some concession. He says that the newspaper will begin to use Texas-El Paso and UTEP interchangeably. This could result in UTEP making the headline with Texas-El Paso becoming the first reference followed by subsequent references to UTEP.
Wickstrom and I both believe this is a step in the right direction. I cannot imagine USA Today maintaining its intransigent position if an Indian tribe or ethnic group wrote asking to cease the non-preferred usage of its name.
UTEP can best realize a singular national identity by making a tremendous splash nationally in athletics and academics.