Ted Banks, who led the UTEP men’s track & field and cross country teams to a combined 17 national titles in nine years (1972-81) as head coach, passed away at his home in Gunter, Texas on Thursday night. He was 82 years old.
Banks directed the Miners to NCAA outdoor track & field championships in 1975, 1978 (co-championship), 1979, 1980 and 1981. UTEP captured NCAA indoor track & field crowns in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1981. The Miners were NCAA cross country champs in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981.
“Ted Banks was one of the most successful cross country and track coaches in NCAA history,” said UTEP track & field coach Mika Laaksonen. “His tenure at UTEP is unmatched with achievement by any other coach.”
“He was at the forefront of track and field coaches when he was here at UTEP and certainly determined the direction that we took in distance running in this country,” said former UTEP coach Bob Kitchens. “He was an exceptional coach. He is the history of this program.”
Banks was a member of UTEP’s initial Athletic Hall of Fame induction class in 2002. He was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2000.
His stint at UTEP also produced 47 NCAA individual champions, 189 All-Americans, 27 Western Athletic Conference men’s team titles (six outdoor track & field, eight indoor track & field, nine cross country) and 152 WAC individual champions.
In 1981 the UTEP men’s cross country team achieved a record-low score of 17 points at the NCAA Championships, only two points shy of a “perfect” score, as Mathews Motshwarateu took first place, Michael Musyoki second, Gabriel Kaman third and Suleiman Nyambui fifth among participating teams.
“We were very fortunate to get 17,” Banks said. “It was beyond my wildest dreams. That was the best team I ever had, by far.”
The Miners won NCAA “triple crowns” (cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field) during the 1979-80 and 1980-81 school years.
Banks also coached Olympic medalists Bert Cameron, Keith Connor, Greg Joy, Musyoki and Nyambui while at UTEP.
Banks resigned in February, 1982 to serve as National Director of Running Promotions for Converse, Inc., where he developed the company’s first line of track & field shoes.
He is survived by his wife Judy, three children (Jennifer, Ted and Tom) and two grandchildren (Hunter and Jade Nix). Hunter Nix played football at UTEP from 2011-13.