Alford’s Big Ten Albatross

By Daniel Libit

Editor’s note: Amidst the rumblings about ex-Lobo coach Steve Alford’s potential return to Indiana, to lead the Hoosiers, one mustn’t  forget the last time he oversaw a Big Ten program. Alford’s coaching tenure at Iowa, from 1999-2007, included many missteps, but none more outrageous than his decision to stand by former star player Pierre Pierce, who was twice accused — and eventually convicted — of sexual assault. After Alford was hired at UCLA, I interviewed Pierce, in what were his first public comments about the matter since he went to prison. The following story was originally published on April 12, 2013 at  Continue reading “Alford’s Big Ten Albatross”

The Unknowns of UNM’s Accounting

By Daniel Libit

No outside party has any real or verifiable idea about how much money the UNM Athletic Department spends, what it spends that money for, and the true size of the department’s substantial budget deficit.  And that’s an enormous problem when New Mexico taxpayers are annually asked to sign a check to cover the excesses of UNM Athletics.

The financial paper trail reported by UNM’s Athletic Department is so confounding that even State Auditor Tim Keller might find it impossible to sort it all out — even though he’s suggested publicly that he’s keeping tabs. Continue reading “The Unknowns of UNM’s Accounting”

Why We’re Suing the UNM Foundation

By Daniel Libit

According to its official slogan, the University of New Mexico Foundation is, “Where generosity meets excellence.”

Left unstated, however, is that the Foundation is also where generosity meets secrecy.

Actually, that might have once been stated rather explicitly. A 2015 Columbia Journalism Review article reported that the UNM Foundation’s website once advertised the following benefit to donors:

“[g]reater assurance of … confidentiality, since [it] is a separate not-for-profit corporation and not subject to open records laws.”

Curiously, those words no longer appear online, but the ethos of obfuscation continues to abound — for now.

This week, in Bernalillo County Court, I filed the very first open records lawsuit against the Foundation. Continue reading “Why We’re Suing the UNM Foundation”

The Reconciliation of Cody Hopkins

By Daniel Libit

HUNT, Texas — On Dec. 14, 2015, Cody Hopkins, the former University of New Mexico men’s basketball operations director, pulled up to the crossing-guard gate of La Hacienda Treatment Center, 80 miles northwest of San Antonio.

Tucked away on a remote, limestone shelf in the Texas Hill Country, Hopkins would try to make sense of a year that had fallen off a cliff. There would be no alcohol here. There would be no cell phone. And, ever mercifully, there would be no Purchasing Card statements.

Hopkins hoped that his arrival here marked the rock-bottom of his descent, the point where he could begin to climb out of the hole. And he was led to believe that UNM, his current employer, was behind him in this effort — or, at the very least, not against him.

But on Dec. 22, eight days into his treatment, Hopkins decided to check back in with the rest of the world. For the first time since he entered La Hacienda, he logged onto a computer — one with lumbering, dial-up Internet — to see if he could catch the score of the UNM-Auburn game at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. Best he could figure was to find it on the Twitter feed of Geoff Grammer, the Albuquerque Journal Lobos beat reporter, where instead he discovered this: Continue reading “The Reconciliation of Cody Hopkins”

Ex-Prez Frank’s Twitter Account Just Slammed the Lobos

By Daniel Libit

For quite some time, sources have been buzzing me about the Game of Thrones-like tumult between former UNM President Robert Frank, Athletic Director Paul Krebs, and UNM head men’s basketball coach Craig Neal. The way it sounds, everybody has been trying to knife each other in the back for the last couple of years. just after 10 p.m. MST tonight, a tweet was posted from Frank’s account that threw a quantum level of shade at the Lobo hoops team. The tweet was deleted shortly thereafter, but here’s a screen grab: Continue reading “Ex-Prez Frank’s Twitter Account Just Slammed the Lobos”

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, 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, 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. 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”