Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
As University of New Mexico head football coach Bob Davie nears the end of his 30-day suspension, a newly released letter provides some additional insight into the basis for his punishment.
UNM’s then-President Chaouki Abdallah issued the suspension last month following three separate investigations involving Davie and his program. In detailing the decision in a Feb. 6 letter to the coach, Abdallah cited a series of university policy and employment contract violations. He also wrote that Davie’s “actions have failed to set a positive example,” noting NCAA principles addressing cultural diversity and student-athlete health and safety. He closed by warning Davie against retaliatory behavior.
Davie’s attorney appealed Abdallah’s decision to the UNM Board of Regents on Feb. 8 and in three supplemental versions – the latest coming March 6. He has disputed Abdallah’s assessment of policy and contract violations; argued the punishment was “grossly excessive” and deprived the coach “of a significant property interest” and accused UNM of forging conclusions not supported by the investigations.
But the regents on Monday formally voted to deny his request for appeal. Davie’s suspension continues through Sunday and will cost him an estimated $35,000.
His attorney did not return a request for comment Tuesday.
UNM last August contracted a retired federal judge to investigate concerns involving the football program. The judge’s findings prompted UNM to hire a Chicago law firm, Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose, to investigate whether coaches interfered with investigations involving football players, including sexual misconduct cases. In its report, the firm said it “cannot conclude” that football staff obstructed or interfered with investigations based on its evaluation of three cases and interviews with willing parties.
Around the same time, the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity investigated possible racial discrimination by Davie, but ultimately determined his race-related comments did not rise to the level of a policy violation. It did, however, note “environment concerns and failure to follow civil rights reporting protocol and policy.”
The law firm and OEO reports – publicly released when Abdallah announced the suspension – left many questioning the exact grounds for Davie’s punishment. But Abdallah’s letter, obtained by the Journal in a public records request, said the law firm’s report demonstrated that Davie knew about a sexual assault allegation but didn’t alert the OEO, violating three UNM policies regarding reporting. (Davie’s attorney, Michael Kennedy, has countered that other authorities – including the UNM Police – knew of the alleged incident before he did.)
Abdallah also determined that Davie violated another university policy related to cooperation with investigations, plus the “unethical conduct” and compliance portions of his employment contract.
In his letter, the then-president also admonished Davie for holding a meeting with five of his black assistant coaches amid the OEO investigation, asking if they’d ever heard him use certain racially charged terms. Abdallah said that questioning “is unacceptable and is intimidating and interferes with a university investigation,” saying OEO’s director had specifically told him not to discuss the investigation with anyone.
In his first appeal, Kennedy argued “there is no evidence whatsoever that any of the five coaches felt in any way intimidated,” and that the OEO never told Davie the meeting had violated policy.