That University of New Mexico basketball coach Paul Weir has three master’s degrees is no fluke — he calls it a product of his own parents’ immigrant upbringing.
His family stressed education above all else, and Weir says he aims to impart the same values in his athletes.
That’s how he assured local business executives Wednesday he does not expect continued issues with the basketball team’s grade-point average, which plummeted to 2.24 in the spring from 3.06 in the fall.
“I think it’s an aberration; I don’t think it will happen again,” Weir told the Albuquerque Economic Forum gathering, noting that federal student privacy laws prevented him from disclosing some of the contributing factors but that the team showed progress during the first summer school session.
“We didn’t get a player below an ‘A,'” he said to applause from the crowd assembled in the Hotel Albuquerque banquet room.
Weir, who just wrapped his first year as the Lobos’ head coach, used a colorful anecdote about his father’s stunted musical career to illustrate his commitment to school. The older Weir, whose family had immigrated to Canada from Ukraine, had developed into an accordion virtuoso by his teenage years. But when a persistent agent showed up on the family’s doorstep to try signing him to a contract, he got an icy reception.
The teenage musician ran to his room, while his father assessed the visitor’s intentions — and made clear he didn’t like them.
“My dad’s dad leaves, comes back with a shotgun, points it at (the agent) and says ‘My son’s going to college; he’s not going to chase some stupid musical dream,'” Weir related to Wednesday’s crowd, saying that his father then instilled the same education-centric ideals in him.
“I hear this voice in my head: ‘Stay in school, stay in school, stay in school,'” he said. “That’s really why I have all these degrees, because I have a crazy old man in my head saying ‘You need to stay in school.'”
Weir said he aims to impart the same lessons to his players — and is actively pushing even former players to finish their degrees. He cited J.R. Giddens, who last played for UNM in 2008, and Sam Logwood, who just finished his senior season but still needs two classes to graduate.
“(Logwood) hears from me every single day: ‘Sam, where are you at in your school work?'” Weir said.