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University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie, in a statement released by the UNM sports information office, said Friday he will appeal the 30-day suspension imposed on him by the school’s administration.
The suspension was announced Thursday by UNM interim President Chaouki Abdallah, accompanying the release of investigation reports, focusing on Davie’s conduct, from the UNM Office of Equal Opportunity and from the Chicago law firm Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose. Earlier, retired federal judge Bruce Black had submitted a similar report to Abdallah.
The Hogan firm was tasked primarily with looking into the football program’s “alleged interference with and improper involvement” in police or university investigations of sexual or physical assault cases against football players.
The OEO investigation dealt with allegations that Davie had used racially charged language and was racially insensitive.
Neither investigation concluded that Davie had violated UNM policy but cited behavior and actions that were inappropriate and needed to be corrected.
It was not announced when the suspension — which is to be without pay — was to start, and Davie was present Friday at UNM’s first spring practice session of the year.
In the statement, Davie denied one of the most explosive allegations made against him in the reports: that, in a team meeting, he urged players to “get some dirt on” a woman who had filed a rape complaint against a UNM player, calling her “a whore.”
Davie’s statement on Friday reads as follows:
“Over the past nine months the University has conducted three investigations involving the football program dating back to 2012. None of these three investigations determined that I had violated any University policy. I have appealed the suspension imposed by Interim President Abdallah to the Board of Regents.
“I fully cooperated in every respect and met multiple times with the investigators, but was never asked to meet with or provide information to (the Hogan law firm). In fact, the Hogan Report reads ‘Given the lack of specific evidence that he or his staff engaged in criminal obstruction or retaliation with respect to these three incidences, we also determined that it was not necessary to interview Coach Davie or conduct a further review of additional police, OEO and medical records.’
“While I do not think it is appropriate to discuss specifics of the investigation at this time, I will respond to one of several troubling allegations. Apparently some unnamed person has claimed that during a team meeting I told the players to ‘get some dirt on this [victim]’. None of the investigators told me about this claim or asked me if I ever made this remark. So there is no misunderstanding, never did I make that or any similar comment.”
After Friday’s UNM practice, the first of spring workouts, Davie declined to answer questions specific to the suspension or his appeal. But he said he doesn’t see the situation as a distraction for the team.
Later on Friday, independent journalist Daniel Libit published attorney Michael Kennedy’s petition to the Board of Regents, appealing the suspension.
In the petition, Davie asserts that:
- Abdallah had no authority to levy a suspension, since the OEO investigation concluded that no policy violation had occurred.
- Davie did not fail to report an incident involving an accusation of rape filed against a player, since the UNM Police Department was already investigating it.
- He did not interfere with that investigation and was not found to have done so in the report from the Hogan firm.
- His conversation with five black coaches, asking them if they had ever heard him use the N-word or the term “blood diamond,” was not an attempt to intimidate those coaches and was not an attempt to interfere with any investigation.
- The final OEO report concluded that Davie had not violated university policy.
- No findings from any of the investigations concluded that he had violated his contract.
- No findings indicated he had committed an NCAA violation, and.
- The suspension deprives Davie of his legal right to due process.
“Blood Diamond” is a 2006 movie depicting events from a civil war in Sierra Leone. In the OEO report, unnamed players said Davie called a player “blood diamond,” a term some of those players considered racist.
The player was not named in the OEO report. But Libit, in a story on his “NM Fishbowl” blog, identified him as defensive lineman Sam Mabany, a native of Sudan. Mabany, a member of Davie’s 2013 recruiting class, left the program in 2014, returned briefly in 2015, then left for good.
Davie said he had never used the term or heard it before his interview with the OEO. But, the OEO cited five witnesses who said they had heard Davie use it.
In levying the suspension, as well as requiring specific in-person training and acknowledgement of Davie’s obligation to comply with UNM policies, Abdallah did not cite a specific allegation or allegations.