UTEP lost a piece of its basketball history with the passing of Greg Ramsey this week.
All those banners hang in the Don Haskins Center, a silent but proud reminder of this university's basketball tradition. One of those banners came first, though. The 1940-41 Border Conference champions, the Texas College of Mines, earned that first banner.
It was a starting point.
When asked if the school had come close to a basketball championship before, Ramsey retorted, "Hadn't even smelled one."
The Miners beat Arizona State on back-to-back nights in Holliday Hall (the old gym behind Kidd Field) to clinch that conference championship.
Ramsey, an Austin High graduate who was quite a golfer, too, joined teammate Bud Lassiter a few years back, walking into old Holliday Hall and letting the memories float down upon them. The place seated 250 people and Lassiter said that wasn't a problem, that basketball was pretty much ignored back then.
But the Boys of '41 began to win and the little gym began to fill up. Lassiter pointed out that the students used to hang from the high windows to watch. "Those were the days," Ramsey said, shaking his head.
They took a big win over rival New Mexico A&M and then worked their way to that two-night sweep of Arizona State.
And a championship banner was theirs ... a first championship banner.
The Miners would not win another banner until coach George McCarty and star player Charles Brown won a title in 1956-57.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor broke up the team the next year — Lassiter becoming a bomber pilot, Ramsey joining the Air Force. But, now and forever, the first banner in the storied history of UTEP basketball belongs to the Boys of '41.