Five years ago, the University of New Mexico agreed to a deal that would have paid former men’s basketball coach Steve Alford about $1.25 million with an additional $600,000 in potential bonuses.
His successor was earning $950,000 after just one season as a head coach. And for a short time in the offseason of 2014, Craig Neal was the highest paid men’s basketball coach in the Mountain West.
In July 2015, former athletic director Paul Krebs told the Journal, “We’re committed … our salaries for our head coaches are going to be at or near the top of the league. We want to get the best coaches, and we want to try and keep them here, retain them.”
Fast forward to the spring of 2018, when the department announced its projection that it will overspend current fiscal year projections by $3.3 million and push its accumulated deficit from the past 11 years to about $6.7 million.
But a closer look at the budget projections shows that only about $350,000 of this year’s overspending of $3.3 million was due to personnel costs. The $500,000 buyout being paid to Neal, let go a year ago, isn’t being handled by athletics at all and is not part of the deficit.
Several administrators in UNM’s athletics department are still handsomely compensated, but UNM in recent years has reversed its coaching salary trend. Relative to its Mountain West peers, UNM hasn’t kept Krebs’ stated objective, at least not among the highest profile positions of football and men’s basketball.