For all the recent scandals in the University of New Mexico’s athletic department, nothing has captured the zeitgeist quite like the 2015 booster golf trip to Scotland arranged by former Athletic Director Paul Krebs. Although, by real dollar figures, it was a comparatively modest waste of taxpayer resources, the specific details of the trip and the pains taken to conceal how it was paid for have not only kept Scotland in the headlines, but have turned it into the subject of an aggressive criminal investigation by the New Mexico Attorney General.
The journalist who originally broke the Scotland story is a familiar face with a familiar mustache in the Land of Enchantment. KRQE investigative reporter Larry Barker has been digging into New Mexico public corruption for over four decades. But as Barker tells me in the finale of The NMFishbowl Podcast, Lobo sports has not typically been a quarry he’s looked to mine. Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Larry Barker”→
Journalist Jeff Proctor, who filed a public records lawsuit last June against New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, after her administration refused to turn over billing records showing how much her contract attorney charged state taxpayers, tells NMFishbowl.com that the parties have now reached a settlement agreement.
“In the very near future, I am going to be writing and publishing a story based on documents I obtained as a result of that litigation,” says Proctor, who currently covers criminal justice for New Mexico In Depth and the Santa Fe Reporter.
For 45 years, college basketball featured two famous arenas dubbed, “The Pit,” one in Albuquerque, the other in Eugene, Oregon.
In 2010, the University of New Mexico renovated its version of The Pit, University Arena, plowing $60 million into the home of Lobo basketball, thanks largely to the generosity of state taxpayers. Lobo fans were duly proud. The next year, the University of Oregon ditched its version of “The Pit”, MacArthur Court, and moved into the brand-new, quarter-billion-dollar Matthew Knight Arena, built thanks to the largesse of its namesake’s father, Nike founder Phil Knight. That’s the difference between the haves and have-nots in Division I college sports. Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Joshua Hunt”→
There should be a movie made about Isaac Avilucea.
I write this in full recognition of how tropey it is to summarize a person’s life story in terms of its screenplay potential. Nevertheless, let it be stipulated for the record: there should be a movie made about Isaac Avilucea.
A native New Mexican, Avilucea currently works as a reporter for The Trentonian newspaper in New Jersey’s capital city. He got his start in journalism at the Daily Lobo while a student at the University of New Mexico, cutting his teeth on the jagged edges of ex-UNM football coach Mike Locksley’s ignominious tenure. From there, Avilucea has caused a right-minded (if, ocassionally, wrong-headed) stir at nearly every place he’s reported, from the Rio Grande to the Delaware River. Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Isaac Avilucea”→
Here we are in the final leg of college football’s regular season: teams are battling for bowl eligibility and highly paid coaches are pocketing tidy sums for the on-field successes of their amateur players.
Ah, nothing heralds autumn like crisp air and fringe benefits.
And when it comes to the yearly harvest-time cash grab of intercollegiate athletics, nobody keeps better tabs on the yield than USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz.
Since 2006, Berkowitz, a sports projects reporter, has stewarded the newspaper’s annually updated databases of college coaching salaries and athletic department budgets. The compilations are frequently referenced in multitudes of stories by USA Today and numerous other media outlets; basically, if you cover a college sports beat, you have them bookmarked.
Berkowitz, meanwhile, has cultivated a following in recent years by live-tweeting the various triggered bonuses that college football coaches accrue during the course of the season.
Last September, the FBI and federal prosecutors in New York held a splashy press conference announcing the arrests of 10 people alleged to have committed fraud by paying bribes to college basketball recruits. Six of the nation’s top college hoops programs were said to be implicated in the criminal investigation, and there was instant buzz that it could amount to the most consequential intercollegiate athletics scandal of modern times.
Others of us, however, could only harrumph over the news the Feds had now decided to start policing the NCAA’s self-serving and idiotic rules on amateurism.
“I was very surprised that the federal government was getting involved in this sort of thing,” ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas tells me in the latest episode of The NMFishbowl Podcast. “It just seemed too small for the government to be involved in, and the theory of the case just seemed to be too shaky, to me. It didn’t seem to be criminal in nature.” Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Jay Bilas”→
A college football coach is suspended amidst a school investigation into various allegations of player mistreatment. It’s later revealed that school administrators had received a letter, long before any action was taken, warning of an abusive culture in the program. The football coach is adamant about staying in his job and seeking vindication. Moreover, he has a huge contract buyout, and the athletic department is already under financial pressures caused, in part, by the continued debt owed on a pricey athletic construction project.
Is any of this sounding familiar, dear reader?
The catalytic difference, for the University of Maryland and its embattled football coach D.J. Durkin, is that there was a death: Jordan McNair, a Terrapins offensive lineman, collapsed from exhaustion and heat stroke during a team practice in late May, passing away in the hospital a few days later. It was subsequently reported by ESPN.com that the Maryland football staff had, at best, failed to act on obvious signs of McNair’s physical distress. Since that time, reporting by the Washington Post’s Rick Maese has further illuminated other institutional failures and oversights that may have preordained this horrendous result.
“We are not talking about a thing specific to Maryland football,” Maese tells me in the latest episode of The NMFishbowl Podcast. “They can be found at Michigan or Ohio State or New Mexico. It’s just: is it acceptable in college football? Is it acceptable in any kind of work place or any kind of school environment where we send kids?” Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Rick Maese”→
In her 32 years as an administrator in the University of New Mexico’s athletic department, Linda Estes burnished a reputation for forthrightness. Given her charge as the purveyor of gender equity for Lobos sports, and guardian of the school’s so-called “non-revenue” programs, Estes kept on her toes all the way until she retired in 2000.
“I saved every piece of paper in my career, because I thought I would eventually end up suing the university for sex discrimination,” Estes tells me in the latest episode of The NMFishbowl Podcast. And had it not been for former Athletic Director Rudy Davalos, who Estes “loved” working for, she said she probably would have ended up filing suit. Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Linda Estes”→
In the statewide commotion over the University of New Mexico’s decision to terminate several of its Olympic sports programs, including its perennially ranked men’s soccer team, there has been no shortage of political grandstanding and moral melodrama. But amidst all the warring diatribes, all the schmaltzy rhetoric about soccer’s sacred place in New Mexico, perhaps the most convincing and sane argument against the cuts came from my guest in today’s episode of The NMFishbowl Podcast. Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Andy Schwarz”→