Yep, We’re Now Suing the Lobo Club

By Daniel Libit

Once. Twice. Three times transparency.

As part of my ongoing effort to help the University of New Mexico with its long-striving and oft-asserted commitment to openness, I have now filed a third public records lawsuit against a UNM component unit or direct-support organization. The latest defendant is arguably the most egregious offender of the trio: the UNM Lobo Club, the athletic department’s booster organization. Continue reading “Yep, We’re Now Suing the Lobo Club”

How UNM Overcounts Football Crowds

By Daniel Libit

“Attendance” is really not a noun open to semantic interpretation, especially in the collegiate setting. If, let’s say, you have perfect attendance, it’s because you’ve physically shown up for every class. But in the intercollegiate setting, and especially with college football, “attendance” has become a largely aspirational concept.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, average official attendance figures for Football Bowl Subdivsion (FBS) programs in 2017 were 71 percent higher than their actual scanned ticket counts for home games. It’s no surprise, then, that the current scenes of college football stadiums tend to look less huddled than the last lines of the box scores would indicate. That certainly appears to be the case at the University of New Mexico’s graveyard of ghosts, Dreamstyle Stadium.

Unlike most FBS schools, UNM does not scan its football tickets, thus making it difficult to know how big the gap is between the Lobos’ official “attendance” figures and reality. But through a recent public records request, has obtained some illuminating data that not only shows how the university inflates its home football crowds, but how it greatly exaggerates its season ticket sales, as well. In essence, if you already thought UNM’s gridiron situation was grim, based on the established metrics, there’s only more reason for pessimism once they’ve been subdivided. Continue reading “How UNM Overcounts Football Crowds”

The NMFishbowl Podcast: Larry Barker

By Daniel Libit

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”

UNM’s Public Records ‘Particularity’ Ploy

By Daniel Libit

Where is the inflection point for shame at Scholes Hall? That’s what I still want to know.

Because it would seem like the University of New Mexico’s leadership, having taken stock of the last two years, in which the school’s disclosure practices were repudiated by government watchdogs, editorial boards, a state District Court judge and the New Mexico Attorney General — and in which UNM’s new president has “emphatically” pledged a new era of transparency — might show some modicum of contrition.

But rather, in spite of everything, UNM’s leaders have recently decided to experiment with a new way of flipping their middle fingers at the virtue of public accountability. In response, I’ve filed another public records lawsuit against the university. Continue reading “UNM’s Public Records ‘Particularity’ Ploy”

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”