Podcast: Let Me Be Frank

By Daniel Libit

The fellas at The Weekly Howl podcast were kind enough to let me bark on their show for another hour this week. In their latest episode, we delve into the nitty-gritty of why I think those UNM athlete exit interviews merited publication, and the counterarguments against it. We also touch on my recent story about Tim Cass’s ballooning retirement benefits. Unfortunately, I was even more long-winded than the last time, so please accept my apologies — and warning — in advance. You can listen to the podcast here.

(Featured photo by Fool4myCanon/Flickr)

Tim Cass’s Consulting Deal is Sweeter Than You Think

By Daniel Libit

Throughout the 2014-15 Lobo sports season, UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs and his top deputy, Tim Cass, were engaged in two parallel conversations: first, how to cut the budget for a bleeding Athletic Department; and second, how to get Cass more money.

In a Feb. 25, 2015 email obtained by NMFishbowl.com, Cass, the Lobos’ Chief Operating Officer, wrote to his boss about Priority Numero Uno: Continue reading “Tim Cass’s Consulting Deal is Sweeter Than You Think”

Calling BS on the Lobos’ PR

By Daniel Libit

There’s a reason this kind of thing is called a Friday news dump: the release of some disappointing information, or cockamamy argument, precisely when most everyone is getting off their work computers and heading home for the weekend.

That is to say, when your target audience might not be paying the closest attention.

And so it was, Friday evening, that Frank Mercogliano, UNM’s top sports spokesman, took a break from his tweeting to drop a pile of dishonest nonsense on GoLobos.com, the school’s official Athletic Department website: “Why Student Athlete Interviews Are Valuable.”

The title of this “article” (we’ll charitably call it) was a humdinger of lip service — and the rest of the words fallaciously followed suit. This wasn’t just Mercogliano’s doing: UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs; Amy Neel, UNM’s Faculty Athletics Representative; and UNM political science professor Michael Rocca, a member of the Athletic Council; all lent their names to the case for why the public shouldn’t know what athletes really think about their experiences at the University of New Mexico. Continue reading “Calling BS on the Lobos’ PR”

‘Damning’ Claims Made Against Lobo Softball Coach

By Daniel Libit

Several outgoing members of the Lobo softball program made “damning” allegations about head coach Erica Beach during last year’s student-athlete exit interviews.

The charges centered around Beach’s racial rhetoric and what was described as her general “unprofessionalism.”

The revelations come in the notes of exit interviews compiled by the Athletic Council, a committee of UNM’s Faculty Senate. NMFishbowl.com previously reported on a more limited release of interview notes, in which some athletes raised concerns about race and gender issues throughout the department and university. In the wake of that, a follow-up public records request was made for a more comprehensive — and less redacted — version of those notes, which UNM provided last week. Continue reading “‘Damning’ Claims Made Against Lobo Softball Coach”

Krebs Confronts Transparency

By Daniel Libit

The public’s right to know is on a collision course with Paul Krebs’ prerogative to keep certain things secret.

The University of New Mexico Athletic Director is attempting to resist journalistic scrutiny into Lobo sports, by engaging university lawyers and calling out potential leaks in his own department.

According to a copy of minutes from last week’s Athletic Department Leadership Team meeting, Krebs had plans to meet with the school’s Athletic Council to, “discuss the aggressive nature in which one reporter, Daniel Libit, requests information.” Continue reading “Krebs Confronts Transparency”

ICS: The Other Side of WisePies

By Daniel Libit

In December 2014, The “World Famous” Pit was infamously rechristened WisePies Arena. But it might have been more appropriately named for Integrated Control Systems — after all, that’s the real meal ticket for WisePies owner Steve Chavez.

To have a fuller understanding of the ties that bind Chavez to the New Mexico Lobos, one must be familiarized with Integrated Control Systems, Inc., an electric works company that installs and maintains environmental, lighting and security infrastructure.

One of ICS’s major clients just happens to be the University of New Mexico. Continue reading “ICS: The Other Side of WisePies”

EXCLUSIVE: UNM Docs Detail Pitfalls of Athlete Experience

By Daniel Libit

Update (1/12/17): Following publication of this story, UNM Athletics Spokesman Frank Mercogliano took to Scout.com’s Lobo message board to push back against a solitary allegation addressed in the article: that the school did not honor members of the Lobo women’s cross country team after their 2015 National Championship. In a follow-up email exchange Mercogliano told NMFishbowl.com that UNM did not report any rules violations to the NCAA, based on student-athlete exit interviews, because: “There were no violations of NCAA rules to report.” 

What’s it like to be a Lobo athlete?


  • You might be fat-shamed by a coach who calls you a “Dorito-eater.”
  •  You might be unable to contact your academic counselor because that adviser is busy writing a term paper for another athlete.
  •  You might be struggling to personally pay substantial medical bills from injuries incurred on the field of play.
  •  You might be misidentified by a classroom professor who tells you, “All you black female athletes look alike.”
  •  You might not be permitted to pursue your preferred major because the coursework conflicts with your coach’s practice schedule.
  •  You might fear for your life during an 18-hour road trip because you play a secondary sport and the aging van you’re riding in seems barely able to remain safely on the road.

Each of these allegations were culled from the notes of exit interviews with University of New Mexico senior athletes during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. The “confidential” documents (copies of which you can see here and here)  were obtained by NMFishbowl.com through a public records request. Continue reading “EXCLUSIVE: UNM Docs Detail Pitfalls of Athlete Experience”

Podcast: What is My Agenda?

By Daniel Libit

NMFishbowl.com was the recent guest of the  The Weekly Howl podcast, where I bloviated about the ethos of this website’s experiment in college sports journalism. Over the course of our (delightful) 75-minute conversation, we also hashed through the “Comeuppance of Craig Neal”; the potential scenario in which UNM buys out Neal’s contract; Albuquerque sports media; the history of Lobo fan-sites; and other UNM esoterica. Bonus subject: Moustapha Diagne. Remember him? Please check it out here.

(photo credit: Cole Young/Flickr)

The Comeuppance of Craig Neal

By Daniel Libit

It’s over. Even if it’s not over yet. Even if it might not be over for a while — that surely has less to do with the man in question than the exigencies of his situation.

Craig Neal’s problems as a college basketball coach have by now become self-evident: the mounting losses, for starters, but really the entire package — the cockeyed public statements; the scapegoating; the sophistry; the pretense; the lack of discipline; the thin skin (that’s worse than Steve Alford’s, if that’s possible).

At New Mexico, Neal has presided over a staff that has been in a perpetual state of flux; over successive teams in retrograde; and over a son who was compelled to transfer out of his father’s program. It is a testament to many uncomfortable truths (about the New Mexico Lobos, yes, but also about college athletics, in general) that Neal has been able to noodle himself into his high-paying, state-subsidized job, with so little contingent accountability. And the picture does not get prettier once the curtain is lifted.

“Craig Neal, known affectionately across the nation as ‘Noodles’…,” reads the head coach’s official bio on GoLobos.com. But that kind of praise tells only a part of the story.

Despite Neal’s semblance of fair-haired, Indianan affability, NMFishbowl.com has found, he has also left a long trail of rancor and recriminations in his path as he voraciously careered from Toronto, to Iowa City, to Albuquerque.

This story is based, in part, on two dozen interviews with sources who have known Neal at various stages of his career — including coaches, players, parents, boosters, pro executives and administrators. In many cases, the sources agreed to talk only on the condition they not be identified, in order to speak candidly. Through a UNM Athletics spokesperson, Neal declined to be interviewed for this story, or respond to a detailed list of questions addressing the various claims made about him here.  Continue reading “The Comeuppance of Craig Neal”