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Lobo Club Won't Donate to Buyout

By James Monteleone
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal
Journal Staff Writer

          The University of New Mexico's athletics fundraiser, the Lobo Club, won't contribute any donated money to support a buyout of football coach Mike Locksley, an organization director told Lobo Club members in an e-mail Wednesday.
        "Please know that the Lobo Club and the UNM Department of Athletics are good stewards of your support," said Larry Ryan, a UNM associate athletic director, in the e-mail to the club's 3,900 donors.
        UNM Regent Gene Gallegos earlier this week said a $1.46 million buyout of Locksley was a plausible option considering the team's poor performance. Locksley has lost 15 of the 16 games he has coached at UNM and has also faced controversy off the field.
        The team is 0-4 this year and has been outscored 225 to 41.
        Gallegos had said the Lobo Club and other private donors would likely offset the cost to the university's Athletics Department.
        "Frequently, when this happens, there's private support. In other words, donors who support the athletic mission, the Lobo Club and so forth, are frequently looked to to provide assistance for things like that," Gallegos had said.
        He acknowledged Wednesday that he was wrong.
        Ryan said in an interview that the club commits its donated money only to student-athlete scholarships and related athlete expenses. In the e-mail to donors, Ryan added that the group also helps raise money for capital projects such as the Pit renovation.
        Prior to publication of Gallegos' comments Wednesday, Ryan did not return calls seeking comment about the potential role of the organization in a buyout.
        The nonprofit booster club reported raising more than $3.1 million in cash donations during the 2009-2010 fiscal year.
        Gifts to the organization intended specifically to fund a coaching change would be accepted, Ryan said, but those donations would not be affiliated with Lobo Club revenues.
        "To my knowledge, I've never heard of that happening. When we've had buyouts in the past, we (the Athletic Department) had to absorb them into our annual operating budget," he said.
        No such independent fundraising is under way, Ryan said.
        Locksley is under contract through 2014 and earns $750,000 per year in total compensation.
        Other regents said this week that UNM cannot afford a costly buyout, because of ongoing budget cuts that are affecting academics.
        Since 1999, UNM has given out a total of $1.56 million in golden parachutes to coaches, including football coach Rocky Long and former basketball coaches Ritchie McKay and Fran Fraschilla.

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