Friday, December 29, 2017




EL PASO, Texas – The Sun Bowl Association and WestStar Bank are pleased to announce the teams coming to El Paso for the 56th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, which will be held in the Don Haskins Center, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 21-22.

The four-team tournament includes North Carolina-Wilmington, North Dakota State, Howard University and UTEP. This marks the first appearance for UNCW and Howard, the second showing for NDSU and of course the Miners have played in every tournament.

“We are thrilled about this year’s field. We are hoping to continue our plan of bringing in the best teams we can find,” Sun Bowl basketball committee chairman Barry Kobren said. “Two of our teams from last year went on to win their conferences and play in the NIT. We think we will see that same success again this year.”

Akron won the 2016 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational by defeating UC-Irvine in game one and beating Maryland Eastern Shore in the title game. Akron went on to win the MAC regular season title and made it to the second round of the NIT, while UC-Irvine won the Big West Conference regular season title and also made it to the second round of the NIT.

“This tournament has become a tradition and the history of teams and players that have come through El Paso is tremendous,” Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “Our basketball committee, which is led by Barry Kobren, continues to seek out and work towards bringing quality teams to the Haskins Center and El Paso.”

*North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks

The UNCW Seahawks finished the 2016-17 year with a 29-6 record while reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, falling in close games to Duke in 2016 and Virginia in 2017. UNCW has won three consecutive Colonial Athletic Conference regular season titles and wrapped up the 2016-17 year with a No. 27 RPI, one of the highest ranked teams to appear in the Sun Bowl Invitational. UNCW finished No. 3 in the final Mid-Major Poll (, behind only Gonzaga and Wichita State. One of the nation’s most explosive offensive units, the Seahawks set 63 school records along with averaging 84.8 points per game.

UNCW begins a new era as the Seahawks start the 2017-18 year with new Head Coach C.B. McGrath, who was previously an assistant coach to Roy Williams for 18 seasons both at Kansas and North Carolina. McGrath was on the bench last season for the Tar Heels during their national championship run. McGrath also played for Coach Williams and was the team captain for the Jayhawks during 1997.

Devontae Cacok is the top returner for UNCW after he was the CAA Defensive Player of the Year and the national leader in field goal percentage (79.9%).

“UNCW was one of the best teams in the country the last two years,” Kobren said. “They led Virginia by 15 in the NCAA tournament last season before falling to the 21st ranked Cavaliers.”

North Dakota State Bison
The North Dakota State athletic department has arguably become one of the top athletic programs in the country. The Bison finished the 2016-17 season with a 19-11 record, while placing second in the Summit League. They had their best four-year span in school history, winning 93 games from 2012-16. The also swept the Summit League regular season and tournament titles three times in seven years, while winning a school-record 26 games in both 2008-09 and 2013-14. NDSU appeared in the NCAA Tournament three times in seven years as well. The Bison were able to pull off an upset during the 2014 NCAA Tournament, defeating Oklahoma 80-75.

The Bison are led by fourth year Head Coach David Richman. During his first season at the helm, Richman guided NDSU to the 2015 Summit League regular season and tournament championships and their third NCAA Tournament bid in seven years. That year, he led his team to 23 victories – the most by any first-year Division I head coach that season – earning him Summit League Coach of the Year honors.

NDSU brings back First Team All-Summit League player Paul Miller, who posted 19.3 points during league play, while Khy Kabellis and A.J. Jacobson, both double digit scorers for the Bison during the 2016-17 season, also return to the team.

“North Dakota State is always a favorite to win their conference and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the NCAA tournament at the end of the season,” Kobren said.

Howard University Bison
Howard, predicted as one of the top teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), finished last season at 10-24 fighting through a number of major injuries including the loss of the nation’s leading scorer (James Daniel; 27 ppg) for the season. They did finish the season strong making a run through the MEAC tournament before falling in the semifinals.

Head Coach Kevin Nickelberry enters his eighth season leading the Bison and has already led Howard to three of the school’s best seasons. Charles “CJ” Williams was named the 2017 Mid-Eastern – Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year by the conference sports information directors and head coaches. Williams ended up being the Bison’s leading scorer and the top freshman scorer in the MEAC with 15.7 points per game in 31 games played. A seven-time MEAC Rookie of the Week, the 6-5 Richmond, Va. native notched two 30-point games, including a career-high 37 points, on 15-of-25 shooting, against Savannah State.

Howard’s 2016-2017 basketball season was chronicled on ESPN’s the Undefeated and can be found online at

The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings of the top historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are in, with Howard University topping the list. Howard, located in Washington, D.C., not only earned the No. 1 spot, but is the only HBCU to crack the top 100 overall college rankings at No. 87.

“Howard was the first team to commit to the Sun Bowl this year and we are proud to be hosting one of the nation’s elite institutions,” Kobren said.

UTEP Miners
The UTEP Miners return five of their top six scorers from last year’s squad that charged to a 13-4 record in its last 17 games and tied for third place in Conference USA. Buoyed by the addition of a top-flight recruiting class, the Miners are looking to contend for the league title in 2017-18. UTEP will feature a potent inside-outside combination in seniors Omega Harris (17.0 ppg), a 1,000-point scorer, and Matt Willms, who ranks ninth in school history with 98 blocked shots.

Head Coach Tim Floyd leads the Miners once again after he engineered one of the biggest in-season turnarounds in the nation as the Miners started the season 2-13, but finished 13-4 and tied for third place in Conference USA with a 12-6 mark. UTEP was the only C-USA team to defeat league champion and NCAA Tournament participant Middle Tennessee. The Miners stunned the Blue Raiders in El Paso, 57-54. Floyd’s work was even more remarkable considering that UTEP lost three players from the previous year’s team — Lee Moore, Josh McSwiggan and Terry Winn — who were all expected to be major contributors and potential starters.

Senior guard Dominic Artis made the Miners go in 2016-17, becoming only the fourth player in C-USA history to register 400 points, 150 rebounds, 150 assists and 50 steals in a season. But Floyd got the most out of every other player on the roster as well, including Omega Harris (17.0 ppg), Matt Willms (11.4 ppg), Paul Thomas (8.6 ppg), Jake Flaggert, and reserves Kelvin Jones and Trey Touchet. All six players improved over the course of the campaign.

“I think everyone is excited about the Miners after their run at the end of the season last year," Kobren said.

In 2009 the tournament was renamed to honor former UTEP head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins. “The Bear” coached at UTEP from 1961 to 1999, winning 719 games and making 14 postseason appearances. Haskins famously led the Miners to victory in the 1966 National Championship game over Adolph Rupp and the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats.

The Sun Bowl Association would like to thank WestStar Bank for supporting the nation’s oldest holiday basketball tournament as it has been the title sponsor for nine consecutive years.

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EL PASO, Texas – The Sun Bowl Association and Executive Director Bernie Olivas confirmed the date and start time for the 84th Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl, which is set for Friday, Dec. 29 at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET). The game will feature a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) taking on a team from the Pac-12 Conference and will be televised on CBS for the 50th consecutive year.

“All games played here are special but this one has a little extra prestige as it marks a 50-year tradition of being televised on CBS,” Olivas said.

The Sun Bowl’s contract with CBS Sports is the longest continuous relationship between a bowl game and one TV network, spanning since 1968 and running through at least 2019. It is one of only two college football games on CBS that does not involve the Southeastern Conference (the other being the Army–Navy Game). Although every other year, CBS broadcasts the Notre Dame–Navy game when the latter is playing as the home team.

Another unique trait the Hyundai Sun Bowl carries is that as of 2015, the game is one of only three bowls that is not being carried by the ESPN family of networks.

There has been a long list of broadcasters that have made it to El Paso including broadcast legends such as Frank Gifford, Pat Summerall, Burt Reynolds, Pat Haden, Verne Lundquist, Jim Nantz and Brad Nessler. Others to join the broadcast team over the years include Michele Tofoya, Doug Flutie, Pat O’Brien, Dan Fouts, Andre Ware and Steve Beuerlein just to name a few.

“We believe that the history of our bowl game is great,” Olivas said. “Just look at the list of teams that have been here, the list of great players that have been on the field and the list of amazing broadcasters we’ve been graced with in the broadcast booth.”

The 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl resulted in North Carolina falling just short of a comeback to Stanford 25-23 in front of 42,166 loud and boisterous fans.

For more information about the Hyundai Sun Bowl and all the events supported by the Sun Bowl Association visit the website at while also following on Social Media platforms such as Facebook (Hyundai Sun Bowl), Twitter and Instagram (@HyundaiSunBowl).

About the Game
On October 18, 1934, at a meeting of the El Paso Kiwanis Club, Dr. Brice Schuller suggested that the club sponsor a football game on New Year’s Day matching an El Paso High School All-Star Team against a worthy opponent. The motion was passed unanimously. It was decided to ask for public suggestions as to the name of this annual game, and the name “Sun Bowl” was submitted by Dr. C. M. Hendricks, who became the first Sun Bowl Association President.

The Sun Bowl football game was first played on January 1, 1935, as a fund-raising event for a local service club, to benefit underprivileged children and to finance improvement to the El Paso High School Stadium. It has grown into El Paso’s number one national attraction. The following year a weeklong schedule of events was added to the Sun Bowl festivities, and four other local service clubs (Rotary, Lions, Optimist and Active 20-30) joined the Kiwanis in coordinating the entire “Sun Carnival” calendar.

In 1936, New Mexico State and Hardin-Simmons Universities were invited to play, and the Sun Bowl has been a college game ever since.



PHILADELPHIA – Many young men across the country saw their dreams come true as their names were announced at the 2017 NFL Draft held in Philadelphia, April 28-30, including 17 former college student-athletes who played in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

As many in the El Paso community are aware, the first round featured three players getting selected by their new NFL teams who played in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Chicago Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky, former North Carolina quarterback, as the No. 2 overall pick. Stanford’s star defensive lineman, Solomon Thomas, was selected as the No. 3 pick overall by the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Hurricanes former tight end David Njoku was chosen at No. 29 overall by the Cleveland Browns.

What some might not be aware of are the other 14 players who saw action in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Those NFL draftees include three defensive players from UCLA, which faced Virginia Tech on Dec. 31, 2013 with the Bruins winning 42-12. The third round picks from UCLA are cornerback Fabian Moreau, who went to the Washington Redskins and Eddie Vanderdoes, who was chosen by the Oakland Raiders. Nazair Jones from North Carolina, who was picked by the Seattle Seahawks, also went in the third round.

Jones was the 2016 Jimmy Rogers Jr. Most Valuable lineman after recording five solo tackles, three assisted tackles, one sack for a loss of seven yards and two tackles for a loss of 14 yards as the Tar Heels dropped an exciting Hyundai Sun Bowl, 25-23.

“Our bowl game continues to bring in some of the best talent from across the nation,” said Hyundai Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas.

During the 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl, Mitch Trubisky completed 23-of-39 pass attempts for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Trubisky set UNC single-season records for touchdown passes (30) and total offense (4,056 yards) in 2016. Trubisky finished the season with just six interceptions, but all six came in UNC losses.

The No. 3 pick (Solomon Thomas) goes after the No. 2 pick (Mitch Trubisky) during the 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl

The No. 3 pick (Solomon Thomas) goes after the No. 2 pick (Mitch Trubisky) during the 2016 Hyundai Sun Bowl

Stanford’s defensive lineman and Texas product Solomon Thomas preserved the victory. Saving his best for last, he sacked Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky on a two-point conversion attempt with 25 seconds left. Thomas finished with seven tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss, and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Njoku played for the Miami Hurricanes and participated in the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl, making one catch during the 20-14 loss to the Washington State Cougars. At 6’4” 246lbs, Njoku has great size for the position as he moves to the next level. Couple that with explosive athleticism, and it’s easy to see why teams had him rated highly, and why the Browns ended up taking him in the first round.

Former Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was taken in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions. Kaaya threw for 219 yards on 17-of-31 passing while throwing one touchdown pass during the 20-14 loss to the Washington State Cougars during the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Former Miami QB Brad Kaaya drops back during a snow filled day at the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl

Former Miami QB Brad Kaaya drops back during a snow filled day at the 2015 Hyundai Sun Bowl

Mark your calendars to watch future NFL players in the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl on Friday, Dec. 29 at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas.

Players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft who also played in the Hyundai Sun Bowl:
(Players listed by round. Included is the player’s name, position, college attended and NFL team)

Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina, CHICAGO BEARS
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford, SAN FRANSICO 49ERS
David Njoku, TE, Miami, CLEVELAND BROWNS


Rayshawn Jenkins, S, Miami, LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina, DALLAS COWBOYS

T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina, ARIZONA CARDINALS

Chuck Clark, DB, Virginia Tech, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE, Miami, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami, DETROIT LIONS

Shalom Luani, S, Washington State, OAKLAND RAIDERS
Elijah Hood, RB, North Carolina, OAKLAND RAIDERS

Eddie Vanderdoes (No. 47 in photo) was picked by the Oakland Raiders in the third round. He is pictured here going after the Virginia Tech quarterback during the 2013 Hyundai Sun Bowl

Eddie Vanderdoes (No. 47 in photo) was picked by the Oakland Raiders in the third round. He is pictured here going after the Virginia Tech quarterback during the 2013 Hyundai Sun Bowl

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EL PASO, Texas – The Sun Bowl Association and Executive Director Bernie Olivas announced on Friday, April 28 that Bill Coon is its 84th President for the 2017-18 year.

As president, Coon will be the spokesman for the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, as well as the general supervisor of the various association committees and activities.

“Bill’s vast experience with not-for-profit organizations is a huge benefit for the Sun Bowl Association,” Olivas said. “His knowledge and enthusiasm for all Sun Bowl events makes him a great fit to lead our Board of Directors. We are all looking forward to a great year with Bill at the helm.”

Coon is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the YMCA of EL Paso. He oversees the Y’s overall mission to nurture youth development, promote healthy living and foster social responsibility. Coon has over 20 years of experience working for the YMCA, serving as the Executive Director for multiple YMCA facilities in El Paso. He has served as Chief Professional Officer for the Boys & Girls Club of America as well as the Vice President of Goodwill El Paso.

Coon will oversee the Association’s continued commitment to El Paso through various events, including the 84th Hyundai Sun Bowl on December 29, 2017. The Sun Bowl Association takes the lead to put on a variety of community events, college and youth sports programs, including the Academy Sports + Outdoors Sun Bowl International Soccer Tournament, the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic and the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

Coon has been heavily involved with the Sun Bowl Association since 2010-11 serving on the Board of Advisors and soon after was selected to join the Sun Bowl Association Board of Directors. In 2014 he was selected as the Vice President of Volunteers managing the Fan Fiesta. He was also the 5K Chairman when the event was active. Coon has also been in charge of overseeing the First Light Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade’s equestrian unit’s safety and coordinating the overall set-up and break-down on game day of the Sun Bowl.

Coon has also assisted in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Sun Bowl International Soccer Tournament for three years as the Field Marshall Coordinator, supervising volunteer teams toward successful trash pick-up. He was elected the Executive Vice-President of the Sun Bowl Association in 2015 and designated as President-Elect in 2016.

“It is an honor to serve along with some of El Paso greatest volunteers and staff. Being President of the second oldest bowl game is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Coon. “The Sun Bowl is responsible for the city’s largest event, our parade. We bring world-class talent to El Paso through our golf tournament, basketball tournament and of course the football game. We recognize our local talent through Punt, Pass and Kick, the soccer tournament, our Sun Court, cheerleading clinics and basketball clinics. What a great organization to be part of.”

Coon and his wife, Janette, have been married for 20 years and have an 18-year-old son, Jacob and a 33-year old daughter Jacqie Bustamante.

Joining the 84th president of the association on the Board of Directors are Scott Mann (President-Elect), Stuart Silva (Executive Vice President), Steve Beltran (Immediate Past President), Jimmy Rogers, Jr. (Chair Emeritus), Natalia Flores (Secretary), John Aranda (Treasurer), Bryan Crowe (VP Community Relations), Robert Dunlop (VP Marketing), Scott Mann (VP Legal Affairs), Wayne Thornton (VP Public Relations), Tamara Gladkowski (VP Volunteers), Barry Kobren (Basketball Chairman), Asher Feinberg (CBS Host Chairman), Linda Smith (Coronation Chair), John Folmer (Football Chairman), Mark Pelletier (Golf Chairman), Jim Lawrence (Parade Chairman), Art Muñoz (VP Special Events), Allen Rystad (Provisions Chairman), Ernest Eisenberg (Board Member), Travis Hughes (Board Member), Michelle Kaip (Board Member), Richard Limas (Board Member), Michael Guerra (Board Member), Mary Kipp (Board Member), Victor Rueda (Board Member), Victor Salazar (Board Member), James O. Stewart III (Board Member) and Tony Valtier (Board Member).

The 2017 Sun Bowl Association Board of Advisors is made up of past presidents Amen Ayoub, Frank Bates, Walker Crowson, Linda East, Chris Mott, Marilyn Munden, Joe Valenzuela, along with members Joana Alferez, Joseph Bocanegra, Ruben Batista, Gil Blancas, Casandra Davisson, Richard Dayoub, Greg DiDonna, Celia Dubrule, Veronica Escobar, David Forti, Frank Hernandez, Brian Kennedy, Tommy Lewis, David Lindhuber, David Morales, Leila Melendez, Cindy Ramos Davidson, Terri Rangel, Jimmy Rogers III, Mike Rogers, Jeff Stevens, Bob Stull, Eric Swanson, Brad Taylor, Brooke Underwood, Pat Valdez-Rios, Charles Vass, Mario Vega and Rebekah Wierson.



AUGUSTA, Ga. – The 2017 Masters field is now set and there are 23 players on this year’s list that have made their way through El Paso. The 2017 Masters is set for April 6-9 at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia.

Phil Mickelson, Mark O’Meara, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods are all lifetime players at the Masters after winning the event in the past. Mickelson won in 2004, 2006 and 2010, O’Meara in 1998, Spieth in 2015 and Woods in 1997 and 2005.

These four players, along with those listed below, gave the City of El Paso some great memories playing in the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic.

“The golf tournament the Sun Bowl Association puts on with Western Refining has been one of the best events we put on,” Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “El Pasoans have an opportunity to see future pro golfers play here. The amount of players in the Masters this year shows the great history of the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic.”

Mickelson played in El Paso in 1989 when he was with Arizona State while O’Meara participated in the third College All-America Golf Classic in 1976. Spieth took to the El Paso Country Club Course in 2011 and Woods won the All-America Golf Classic in 1995.

Spieth has played Augusta three times and never finished worse than second. With the way he has been striking the ball so far in 2017, he’s one of the favorites this week.

Dustin Johnson, who is currently ranked as the No. 1 golfer in the world, played in the 2005 and 2006 Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classics.

Here’s a look at the 23 players who qualified for the Masters and played in the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic (and how they earned their invites. (Note: listed is the school each player was with during the year they played in the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic):

CATEGORY 1: Masters Tournament champions (Lifetime)
• Phil Mickelson (Arizona State – 1989)
• Mark O’Meara (Long Beach State – 1976)
• Jordan Spieth (Texas – 2011)
Tiger Woods (Stanford – 1995), who qualified under Category 1, has withdrawn from the tournament.

CATEGORY 2: U.S. Open champions (Honorary, non-competing after five years)
• Dustin Johnson (Coastal Carolina – 2005 & 2006)
• Webb Simpson (Wake Forest – 2005 & 2007)

CATEGORY 3: British Open champions (Honorary, non-competing after five years)

CATEGORY 4: PGA Championship champions (Honorary, non-competing after five years)
• Jason Dufner (Auburn – 1997)

CATEGORY 5: Winners of The Players Championship (Three years)
• Rickie Fowler (Oklahoma State – 1998)

CATEGORY 6: Current Olympic Gold medalist (One year)

CATEGORY 7: Current U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up (Honorary, non-competing after one year)

CATEGORY 8: Current British Amateur champion (Honorary, non-competing after one year)

CATEGORY 9: Current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion

CATEGORY 10: Current Latin America Amateur champion

CATEGORY 11: Current U.S. Mid-Amateur champion

CATEGORY 12: The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year’s Masters Tournament
• Paul Casey (Arizona State – 1998)
• J.B. Holmes (Kentucky – 2002)
• Brandt Snedeker (Vanderbilt – 2002)

CATEGORY 13: The first four players, including ties, in the previous year’s U.S. Open
• Jim Furyk (Arizona – 1990)

CATEGORY 14: The first four players, including ties, in the previous year’s British Open

CATEGORY 15: The first four players, including ties, in the previous year’s PGA Championship
• Daniel Summerhays (BYU – 2006)

CATEGORY 16: Individual winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from previous Masters to current Masters
• Russell Henley (Georgia – 2008, 2009, 2010)
• Russell Knox (Jacksonville – 2006)
• Ryan Moore (UNLV – 2002 & 2003)
• Justin Thomas (Alabama – 2012)

CATEGORY 17: Those qualifying for the previous year’s season-ending Tour Championship
• Kevin Chappell (UCLA – 2007)
• Kevin Kisner (Georgia – 2004)
• Matt Kuchar (Georgia Tech – 1999)

CATEGORY 18: The 50 leaders on the final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year
• Bill Haas (Wake Forest – 2001)
• Alex Noren (Oklahoma State – 2004)
• Thomas Pieters (Illinois – 2012)

CATEGORY 19: The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament

Masters Tournament Central:

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