Here’s UNM’s $175K Buyout Deal with Deputy AD

By Daniel Libit

As first reported on Twitter Monday night, the University of New Mexico has decided to terminate the contract of Deputy Athletic Director Brad Hutchins just before the end of the year.

After ignoring media inquiries about this matter for almost 24 hours, UNM AD Eddie Nuñez finally told the Albuquerque Journal late Tuesday night that the school and Hutchins had reached a buyout agreement for $175,000. Hutchins’ contract was due to expire on June 30, 2020 and, per the terms of his contract, he could have been owed up to $225,000 for its premature termination. Continue reading “Here’s UNM’s $175K Buyout Deal with Deputy AD”

The NMFishbowl Podcast: Jeff Proctor

By Daniel Libit

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 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.

Proctor revealed this update in the latest episode of The NMFishbowl Podcast, where we discussed the importance of and impediments to governmental transparency in the Land of Enchantment. Continue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Jeff Proctor”

Flack Goes to Mat on Davie Crowd Quip

By Daniel Libit

How tenuous are things around Lobo football? It seems we may have already crossed the messenger-shooting Rubicon of the Bob Davie reign weeks ago.

Earlier this month, the University of New Mexico’s top athletic spokesman, Frank Mercogliano, fired off a chastising email to an Albuquerque Journal reporter, in which he argued that the “very poor” use of a Davie quote in a story about UNM football home attendance was “hurtful to Coach Davie’s reputation.” However, both those contentions should probably be examined further. Continue reading “Flack Goes to Mat on Davie Crowd Quip”

The NMFishbowl Podcast: Joshua Hunt

By Daniel Libit

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”

UNM Coughs Up $35K to Exit Records Case

By Daniel Libit

The University of New Mexico continues to run up a tab for its anti-transparency past.

As part of a recent settlement agreement, the school has agreed to pay $35,000 of my legal fees in order to be dismissed as a defendant in a public records lawsuit I filed against the UNM Foundation. Continue reading “UNM Coughs Up $35K to Exit Records Case”

The NMFishbowl Podcast: Isaac Avilucea

By Daniel Libit

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”

The NMFishbowl Podcast: Steve Berkowitz

By Daniel Libit

Berk Podcast Image illustration

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.

“It’s a function of keeping an eye on a scoreboard during a Saturday afternoon or Saturday evening, and trying to do this without it completely wrecking my life,” Berkowitz tells me in the latest episode of The NMFishbowl PodcastContinue reading “The NMFishbowl Podcast: Steve Berkowitz”

Unplugging the Lobo Club Matrix

By Daniel Libit

How much should you spend on a gift for a retiring college athletic director?

For the University of New Mexico Lobo Club, the answer to that question, as it came to pass last August, was $412. 

According to a copy of the organization’s expense records, that is the amount the Lobo Club paid to buy former UNM AD Paul Krebs a handcrafted, solid maple ass-pedestal from Standard Chair of Gardner. The purchase was designated, “Miscellaneous”.

Now, mind you, there were some extenuating circumstances surrounding Krebs’s departure.

He was not so much retiring, in the affirmative sense, as he was resigning under intensifying pressure over a 2015 Scottish golf trip he had arranged for himself and some Lobo boosters, which had fallen under the scrutiny of the Offices of the New Mexico State Auditor and Attorney General. That burgeoning scandal — and a contemporaneous one involving the discovery of nearly a half-million dollars of unpaid luxury suite revenue for UNM men’s basketball games — had now fully breached the levees of the Lobo Club.

In due course, the controversies would put an embattled Lobo athletic director and UNM’s bedraggled sports booster group at a tense, face-saving impasse.

Little known to anyone outside the Lobo Club’s Executive Committee is that Krebs had already been spearheading an effort, months in the making, to officially do away with the organization.

At points last summer, before all hell broke loose, this looked to be the direction things were headed: the Lobo Club was going to be officially swallowed up by the UNM Foundation.

But alas, before you can get rid of the Lobo Club, you first have to understand what the Lobo Club is. Continue reading “Unplugging the Lobo Club Matrix”

The NMFishbowl Podcast: Jay Bilas

By Daniel Libit

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”