By Daniel Libit
Since NMFishbowl.com broke the news in September that the University of New Mexico had hired an outside investigator to look into allegations against Bob Davie, the Lobo football coach has vowed to address those charges just as soon as he is able.
The investigation, led by former federal judge Bruce Black, formally concluded on Oct. 31, but the Lobo football coach is still not talking about it. “Now is not the time,” Davie told NMFishbowl.com this week.
That’s probably because Davie has not yet been cleared of those pending allegations.
A university source tells NMFishbowl.com that, based on Black’s initial findings, UNM interim President Chaouki Abdallah has expressed interest in continuing the probe and the school is currently looking to hire a different outside investigator, likely a law firm, to pick up where the judge left off.
Abdallah and a university spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment this week.
Meanwhile, NMFishbowl.com has obtained an email that UNM football operations director Brian DeSpain — who is also Davie’s son-in-law — sent to new Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez on Oct. 25, in which DeSpain appeals for the investigation to be wrapped up because of the negative national attention it had brought to Lobo football.
“Watch this video from Friday night’s ESPN broadcast and let me know your thoughts about you sending it to Chaouki to illustrate the urgency and time sensitivity we are dealing with in having this investigation still out there,” DeSpain wrote to Nuñez. “Obviously another big ESPN telecast coming up Saturday [Oct. 28, against Wyoming]. Let me know what you think. Thanks.”
DeSpain attached to the email a six-minute clip from the ESPN broadcast of the UNM-Colorado State contest on Oct. 20, in which the game announcers discussed the current “stressful” period for Davie’s program.
“I believe the intentions with the email are pretty clear,” DeSpain told NMFishbowl.com in an email, when asked why he sent it.
Davie added: “I see nothing inappropriate or unusual in Brian’s email to Eddie. As you know it is common to monitor the narrative especially in a nationally televised ESPN game.”
Sources tell NMFishbowl.com that, since the investigation went public, DeSpain has been actively reaching out to potential Black interviewees in a manner some have viewed as an act of meddling.
“I’m not going to comment any further, other than to say that my personal involvement and the football program’s response to this situation, and all others, has always been appropriate and compliant,” DeSpain said.
Nuñez, who reached out to NMFishbowl.com last week, pledging a new era of department transparency, did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the email from DeSpain or the Davie investigation. It is unclear whether or not he acted on DeSpain’s request to forward the ESPN clip to Abdallah.
UNM has still not officially confirmed that Davie is the subject of investigation, even though that fact is, by now, axiomatic. NMFishbowl.com has previously reported that Davie is being represented in the matter by the law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy.
According to emails obtained by NMFishbowl.com, the firm’s namesake partner, Michael Kennedy, wrote to UNM legal counsel Elsa Cole back in September, seeking a list of Inspection of Public Records Act requests for materials relating to his client. Cole provided Kennedy copies of three such IPRA requests and also forwarded to him the two vague statements UNM initially made about the investigation.
NMFishbowl.com previously reported about a number of incidents in which Davie was alleged to have gotten into physical altercations with players or coaches. Since that story, sources have been buzzing about three other incidents that had not yet been publicly reported.
Former Lobo Darryl Johnson confirmed an incident recalled by at least four other former players, who said Davie threw a notebook at the starting lineman after he yawned during a team meeting. Johnson, who was signed by former coach Mike Locksley, played for Davie from 2012-2013.
“I’m a grown man and there are a lot of ways to discipline people,” Johnson told NMFishbowl.com this week. “That is not how you discipline players. There are people who, if that happened [to them], ESPN would have been called about it… I told Coach Davie, ‘If you want to gain respect from me you have to find a different way to discipline than to react physically.’ He said, ‘okay.’ We went on, I played my two seasons, I never had any personal problems with him after that. Everything after that you already know about.”
Johnson, who signed free-agent contracts with two NFL teams after finishing his Lobo career, currently resides in Albuquerque. Davie did not respond to a request for comment about this incident.
Multiple team sources also recalled an incident in which Davie physically accosted defensive line coach Barry Sacks during a practice. “Davie grabbed him from the back, and whipped him around,” said one eye-witness, who described the exchange as “shocking.” Sacks left UNM at the end of 2015 to take a job at San Jose State, where he had previously coached.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Sacks told NMFishbowl.com over text message this week, when asked about the alleged encounter. Davie declined to specifically address the incident when NMFishbowl.com asked him about it last month, although he included it among a list of allegations that he said “sound(ed) more like malicious rumors.”
Finally, several team sources mentioned a blistering dressing-down that Davie gave to former assistant Charles McMillian in last season’s game at Rutgers, which was briefly caught by ESPN’s sideline cameras. A source who spoke to McMillian afterwards said the coach was so taken aback by Davie’s behavior, that he brought it up with athletic department officials. McMillian, who left the Lobos in June to take a high school coaching job in Houston, declined to comment.
In addition to allegations of player mistreatment and compromised athlete drug testing, the university source said, concerns were also raised to Bruce Black about Davie’s involvement in criminal investigations into Lobo football players, specifically those dealing with sexual assault. It is not clear what, if any, specific incidents were addressed with Black. Davie did not respond to questions about this subject.
The Lobos play UNLV tonight on ESPN2.
(Featured image by Loren Orr / Getty)