Mining Minds Sculpture Lit for Track Champion and Historic Basketball Win

Last Updated on March 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Originally published March 16, 2017

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

The “Mining Minds” pickaxe sculpture at UTEP’s University Avenue roundabout will be illuminated in blue and orange Friday evening, March 17, 2017 and Sunday, March 19, to celebrate current and historic UTEP national championships.

mining minds

Friday’s lighting will honor Emmanuel Korir, a track and field athlete who earned the NCAA track and field indoor title in the 800-meter run on March 11. He crossed the finish line first with a time of 1:47.48. The freshman became the 40th national champion for the UTEP track and field program.

On Sunday, the special lighting will recognize the 51st anniversary of the UTEP men’s basketball NCAA championship victory on March 19, 1966. On that historic day, the Texas Western (now UTEP) Miners beat top-ranked Kentucky 72-65 in the title game — a game that forever changed college athletics. Legendary Coach Don Haskins made history by staring five African-American players, the first time that had been done in an NCAA basketball championship game. After the 1966 championship, college teams throughout the South began aggressively recruiting African-American athletes, ending years of segregation.

“Mining Minds” is an iconic piece of public art installed in 2010 to enhance the UTEP campus. At night, orange lights illuminate the steel structure while light from LEDs emanate from the perforated “ones” and “zeroes” at each end of the pick.

On special occasions, including historic dates, major annual milestones and to celebrate special accomplishments, the pick is illuminated in blue and orange. Learn more about the statue and its artist at