Despite FBI investigation, UTEP fans rally for men's basketball team
Updated: Thursday, January 9 2014, 09:46 PM MST
By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas The UTEP men's basketball team hit the court Thursday night for the first time since an FBI investigation kicked three players off the team.
About 7,600 fans rallied at the Don Haskins Center to watch the Miners take on the Charlotte 49ers.
It's been a rough year for the men's basketball team starting with losing prized recruit Isaac Hamilton and leading up to the FBI investigation, but that didn't start die-hard Miner fans from showing up to give support to a team that desperately needs it.
As KFOX14 previously reported, McKenzie Moore, Jalen Ragland and Justin Crosgile were kicked off the team after they bet on at least one sporting event, according to a press conference UTEP held earlier this week.
As a Miner fan for more than 30 years, Patricia Flores wont let an FBI investigation get in the way. She didn't waste any time showing up decked out in orange and blue.
"We got to have their back," she said. "We just have to; that's what fans are for."
When she first heard of the news, she said a lot of rumors were flying around.
"My first reaction was they're kids. They made a mistake, everybody was trying to speculate, 'oh this happened, that happened,' It's like OK, shut up, leave it alone, we'll find out sooner or later," Flores said.
Luis Bustillos and his daughter Samantha believe the team isn't at fault for the actions of a few.
"There's been talk on Instagram and Facebook and stuff. What are people saying? Just like, "Oh, it's a shock; what's UTEP going to do? They'll hold it together; they're a pretty good team," Samantha Bustillos said.
UTEP lost to Charlotte 73 to 68.