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UNM suspending Davie in the wake of outside investigation

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UNM head football coach Bob Davie. (Journal file)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The University of New Mexico announced Thursday it is suspending head football coach Bob Davie for 30 days in the wake of a new report from an outside investigator.

A Chicago law firm hired by UNM says it could not conclude that football coaches or staff has obstructed with criminal investigations or misconduct cases involving players based on its review of three incidents, according to newly released documents.

But the firm is recommending leadership “take strong action to ensure that the University does not and will not — in any aspect of the University’s program, including athletics —tolerate sexual harassment, sexual assault, physical abuse or other prohibited misconduct against its students.” It is also urging greater oversight of the athletic department and other units “with respect to their handling of incidents of alleged misconduct” following its recent probe, according to the report it filed with UNM last month.

Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose’s recommendations include an annual review of the university’s handling of student-athletic misconduct cases and leadership that “set(s) a stronger tone and commitment to compliance — that student-athletes will be treated like and held to the same expectations and standards of conduct as other University students,” the report said.

UNM hired the firm last November on the heels of an earlier investigation by retired federal judge Bruce Black after which he had recommended further review of certain issues. Hogan Marren specifically investigated alleged physical abuse of football players and “alleged interference with and improper involvement by the football program into police and/or University investigations of sexual and physical assault by football players.”

Hogan Marren never interviewed head football coach Bob Davie, according to the report. But his name appeared numerous times in its final report.

That includes the firm’s examination of one case in which a female student had reported to UNM Police that a football player had raped her.

Witnesses told Black that Davie had “held an all team meeting in which he told the players to ‘get some dirt on this whore,'” according to Hogan Marren’s report. The firm said it was not able to independently confirm Davie’s actual comments, as players and coaches it contacted said they weren’t at the meeting or didn’t remember Davie using those words or remembered only hearing they needed to protect their teammate and provide information to Davie.

However, its report states that Bob Davie personally met with a UNM police officer along with a player the coach said had information related to an investigation that another player had raped a female student. The player showed police video of the female student possibly posted after the alleged incident.

“Coach Davie argued that the video, which showed the student making comments about breaking up with someone but did not mention (the accused player) undermined the female student’s credibility by showing she was seeking revenge and continued to advocate on the (accused player’s) behalf with the officer,” the report states.

The alleged victim also later complained to student advocate complaining that football players talking about the rape case had said Davie “”was going to take care of it.” In following up, the Office of Equal Opportunity spoke to UNMPD who expressed concerns Davie was interfering with the investigation. One officer “confirmed that Coach Davie admitted he had spoken to the players about the case and produced two players who had found a (redacted word) video of the alleged victim.”

An OEO investigator wrote a memo about the concerns but OEO never opened an investigation into Davie’s possible interference.

Interim president Chaouki Abdallah issued a statement Thursday in the wake of the report’s release, saying UNM would implement changes and corrective action. As part of the statement, UNM announced Davie’s 30-day, unpaid suspension.

“Both (investigations) identified blind-spots as well as instances where UNM policies have been violated and outdated practices persist regarding University reporting processes. Although UNM has clear policies, procedures and options for reporting misconduct and has made important progress in simplifying these options, gaps still exist. We will close the gaps and will not accept confusion or ignorance of policies as an excuse. Behavior that violates our policies will not be tolerated. We will intensify our efforts to educate our campus community and change the culture of accountability within the University.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas — who had already begun an investigation into athletics department issues — announced Thursday he would expand it.

“We will never tolerate a university culture that denies students their basic rights through illegal discrimination or retaliation against those who report sexual misconduct. Our criminal and civil investigation into the University of New Mexico includes the handling of these issues and we are reviewing the actions of officials from top to bottom and any other organizations involved.”

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