By Daniel Libit
The University of New Mexico has hired former Federal Judge Bruce D. Black to investigate Lobo football coach Bob Davie and other issues within the the UNM Athletic Department, including the sanctity of its drug-testing procedures.
In a brief telephone call with NMFishbowl.com Friday, Black confirmed that he had been retained by the school earlier this month. NMFishbowl.com still has a pending public records request seeking the engagement letter between the school and the former judge.
In May, UNM hired Black to investigate allegations that former UNM Regent Jack Fortner had improperly billed the school for travel expenses. Fortner was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.
Black was appointed to the United States District Court for New Mexico in 1995 and served there until his retirement earlier this year. He was the court’s chief judge from 2010 to 2012. Since retiring, Black has done mediation and arbitration work, as well as volunteer work for the state courts.
Update 10/23/17: NMFishbowl.com has now obtained the First Amended Professional Services Agreement between UNM and Bruce Black, which the Albuquerque Journal first reported on Sep. 29. According to the agreement, Black’s investigation is scheduled to be completed by no later than next Tuesday, Oct. 31. The contract, which will pay Black up to $37,000, including expenses, is set to terminate on that date.
In a rather conspicuous way, UNM has attempted to occlude the fact that Lobo football coach Bob Davie is the main target of the investigaiton. The agreement itself strains to avoid identifying Davie, and further seeks to shroud Black’s work behind the veil of attorney-client privilege. This is not a courtesy the school has traditionally extended to those it investigates, either via its Internal Audit department or by an outside firm. When Black was hired earlier this year to investigate Fortner, the former regent’s name appeared in the service agreement, along with the specific allegations being looked into.
On Sep. 13, NMFishbowl.com made a public records request for “any/all documents relating to agreements entered into by UNM and an outside entity for the purposes of investigating Lobo football coach Bob Davie, since Jan. 1, 2017.” Two weeks later, UNM denied that request, claiming that there were “no responsive documents located.” That same day, UNM provided the Albuquerque Journal a copy of Black’s agreement. Earlier this month, NMFishbowl.com sent an email to UNM, objecting to the claim that no documents existed for the aforementioned request.
In response, John Rodriguez, the university’s IPRA custodian, said: “Your request…was understood to seek records specifically responsive to the language in the request, and the University stands by its position that there are no responsive records. ”
NMFishbowl.com made a follow-up records request for specifically any agreements between UNM and Black, which was due on Oct. 15. After multiple emails and a phone call seeking a status update, the agreement was finally provided to us on Oct. 20.
Clarification: This post was updated to reflect that former UNM Regent Jack Fortner was cleared of any wrongdoing by Bruce Black’s investigation.