In a letter sent to University of New Mexico administrators on Aug. 9, former UNM football player Jadon Boatright paints a disturbing picture of Lobos head coach Bob Davie. The letter is believed to have played a key role in the process that led to Davie’s 30-day suspension without pay, which concludes today.
But the letter, made public on Feb. 28 by the UNM watchdog website nmfishbowl.com, begins with a glaring inaccuracy. Some of his other accusations raise questions, as well.
“My first year here,” Boatright wrote in the fourth paragraph, “a guy by the name of Saqwan Edwards had been grabbed by the neck by Coach Davie coming out of the tunnel because Coach Davie saw him smiling and the two of them went at it after Davie put his hands on him.”
In fact, the incident involving Davie and Edwards (first name correctly spelled SaQwan) occurred in September 2012. At the time, Boatright was a senior at Liberty Hill High School in suburban Austin, Texas.
Further down in the letter, Boatright recounted that, after he left the program in 2015 — he returned the following year — Davie told the Journal his departure was due to academic problems. Later, Davie called the Journal and corrected himself, saying Boatright had left of his own volition because he was unhappy in the program.
Davie added, however, that Boatright did fail to complete his academic work for the 2015 spring semester before departing — something Boatright did not mention.
In his letter, Boatright said Davie made the second call to the Journal only because Boatright had threatened to “come out about the Saqwan incident” — or, as nmfishbowl.com editor Daniel Libit characterized it, “spill the beans.”
Boatright would seem an unlikely bean-spiller, since he couldn’t have seen the incident.
But were there any beans left to spill?
In February 2013, while Boatright was still in high school, an anonymous letter from unknown “UNM Senior Football Players” — in which Davie was accused of favoring white players over black players and his own recruits over those remaining from former coach Mike Locksley’s tenure — referenced the Edwards incident.
On Feb. 8, 2013, at a news conference, Davie presented his version of the dust-up. He was angered, he said, because he’d seen Edwards laughing as the team came back onto the field while trailing Boise State 29-0 at halftime. He walked briskly toward the player, he said, with no intention to accost him physically but to dress him down verbally.
David said he stumbled in a depression in the ground, tripped and fell forward, and he and Edwards — who was wearing a protective boot while rehabbing an ankle injury — fell together in a heap.
Unidentified sources, both in a UNM Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) investigation report and in an nmfishbowl.com story, contradict Davie’s version and contend the coach physically accosted Edwards.
Several of the accounts are second-hand. No one has been quoted by name as having witnessed the incident except Davie and Edwards, who told Libit: “All I’m going to say is if you hear from certain players the same things, it is true.”
In his letter, Boatright notes that Davie allowed Edwards to move from wide receiver to cornerback for his final two seasons and suggests it was quid pro quo for Edwards’ remaining quiet about the Boise State incident.
“Coach Davie granted that to him, without knowing whether or not he was capable of playing that position,” Boatright wrote.
Yet, at the same time Davie announced Edwards was moving from wide receiver to cornerback, he announced that teammate Trajuan Briggs was moving from running back to linebacker. Several players have moved from one side of the ball to the other during Davie’s tenure, including, most recently, Teton Saltes from defensive end to offensive tackle and Elijah Lilly from cornerback to slot receiver.
In August 2013, Davie said Edwards had come to him the previous January, asking to move to defense. Edwards demonstrated during 2013 spring practice, Davie said, that he was capable of making the switch.
Edwards was successful enough as a cornerback that, after his UNM career, he was signed to contracts by the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and New York Giants.
In his letter, Boatright claimed that two players were caught smoking marijuana in the team hotel on a road trip and that they faced no consequences. He also said “Davie has allowed numerous people to not participate in team drug tests due to them admitting they would fail if they did take the test.”
In September, the Journal reported that UNM had contracted with retired federal Judge Bruce Black to investigate, among other things, “enforcement of (athletic) department rules regarding use of illegal drugs and drug testing.”
Black reported his findings orally to then-UNM interim president Abdallah. On Nov. 17, Abdallah told the Journal that Black had submitted his report. Abdallah said that, though there were issues that needed further scrutiny, there were some allegations Black had looked into that appeared unfounded.
Neither the ensuing investigation report regarding Davie’s conduct from the OEO nor that of the Chicago law firm Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose addressed allegations that Davie had violated UNM’s drug-testing policy.
In Abdallah’s Feb. 6 letter to Davie, in which he provided his rationale for having suspended Davie for 30 days without pay, neither drug-testing irregularities nor laxity in enforcing drug policy was cited.
In the OEO report, unidentified witnesses said they had heard Davie use a racial slur in response to a black player — who had first used the term — on the practice field during the 2016 season.
Saltes, a current UNM football player, wrote in a Feb. 28 Facebook post that he had witnessed the exchange and confirmed that Davie had used the slur in response to a player who had used it.
“Should (Davie) have said it? Of course not,” Saltes wrote. “But there was no malicious connotation behind it when it was said.”
It was alleged that Davie had nicknamed an African-born player “Blood Diamond,” a reference to a movie set in Africa.
It was alleged that Davie told four black players, who were riding in a golf cart during preseason training in Ruidoso, that golf was a white man’s game — the exact words differing from account to account.
Boatright told Libit he had witnessed the first incident and had been aware of the other two, yet mentioned none of those incidents in his letter.
In the letter, Boatright requested he be allowed to stay at UNM on scholarship past the end of the 2017 fall semester even though he had quit the team before the 2017 season began.
Boatright is listed as registered for the 2018 spring semester, which began on Jan. 15. He remains on scholarship.