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UTEP hires Tim Floyd as basketball coach

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Tim Floyd is coming back to El Paso and couldn't be happier about returning to the school that gave him his first coaching job more than 30 years ago.

The former USC coach and one-time assistant to former Miners coach Don Haskins was introduced Tuesday afternoon as the fifth coach to lead UTEP since Haskins retired in 1999.

"I came here at 22 years old and I didn't know anything about the game of basketball," the 56-year-old coach said. "Coach Haskins gave me an opportunity when I didn't deserve one."

Floyd, who most recently has been an assistant for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, left USC after the 2009 season amid allegations of recruiting violations involving player O.J. Mayo.

Floyd said Tuesday that his departure from USC was "not an admission of guilt."

"I chose not to try my case in the media," Floyd said of the ongoing NCAA probe. "I left because of lack of support."

Floyd replaces Tony Barbee, who left UTEP last week to take the head job at Auburn. Barbee led UTEP to the NCAA tournament, but the Miners lost in the first round to Butler.

UTEP athletic director Bob Stull said he called Floyd immediately after Barbee made the move to Auburn.

"In that first phone call, he said he was definitely interested," Stull said. Floyd committed to the job in an early morning phone call Tuesday, Stull said.

Details about his contract were not released. Floyd said his more immediate focus was on getting to work.

He planned to meet individually with players Wednesday morning.

"All that other stuff will work itself out," Floyd said.

Floyd was introduced in front of a crowd of UTEP fans and boosters, including Haskins' widow, Mary Haskins, whom he described as his second mom.

In four seasons in Southern California Floyd went 85-50, taking the Trojans to the NCAA tournament three times, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2007.

Floyd was an assistant to Haskins from 1978-86. After leaving UTEP, he coached at Idaho, New Orleans and Iowa State before taking over the Chicago Bulls in 1998. He later led the Hornets before taking the top job at USC.

After the 2009 season, when three key Trojan starters declared for the NBA draft, allegations surfaced that Floyd paid a Los Angeles event promoter $1,000 in cash to steer the highly recruited Mayo to USC. A former associate of Mayo's has described the transaction to NCAA investigators.

The investigation is ongoing, but if the allegations are upheld USC could face recruiting restrictions and lose scholarships.

Earlier this year, USC said an internal investigation concluded there were rules violations involving Mayo and pre-emptively forfeited 21 wins from the 2007-2008 season, took away one scholarship through the 2010-11 season and imposed a one-year ban on postseason play.

Floyd said Tuesday that USC self-sanctioned after finding "institutional control violations" and repeated his previous denials of wrongdoing, while praising UTEP officials for doing "their due diligence" in hiring him.

"I left a place because I didn't feel supported," Floyd said. "I'm coming to a place where I know they support their coaches and more importantly, their student athletes."

He added that he was aware of the allegation involving Mayo about six months before the claim became public "and chose to stay (at USC) because I knew I had done nothing wrong."

Stull said UTEP competed with four other job offers, but did not name which schools or teams Floyd was speaking with.