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After cuts, Lobo ski coach hired away while soccer coach fights on

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Fredrik Landstedt, former UNM ski coach (Courtesy UNM)

It didn’t take long for others to swoop in and capitalize on the University of New Mexico’s decision to cut four sports, and significantly reduce two others, after the coming season.

And, as Lobos men’s soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein is already finding out, many others are already circling around his roster of players trying to get them to leave Albuquerque now before the team takes the field for what is, for now, scheduled to be its final season at the university.

After 21 years with the UNM men’s and women’s ski teams, including the past 11 as head coach and being an assistant on the 2004 National Championship team, Fredrik Landstedt was announced Friday morning as the Director of Skiing at the University of Utah.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead a program with such a rich history,” Landstedt said in a news release posted on the University of Utah athletics website. “Utah has a strong winning tradition and the support that the University provides its ski team is incredible. I look forward to bringing NCAA titles back to Utah!”

The announcement came less than 24 hours after the UNM Board of regents on Thursday voted 6-0 to approve a proposal to eliminate four sports starting in the 2019-20 season: men’s and women’s skiing, men’s soccer and women’s beach volleyball, while also slashing significantly the men’s track and cross country teams and discontinuing the diving portion of the women’s swimming and diving team.

For its part, UNM announced Friday afternoon that Joe Downing, who has served the past six seasons as an assistant with the Lobos, will now be the interim head skiing coach at UNM.

Even prior to Thursday’s Board of Regents cuts, indoor and beach volleyball coach Jeff Nelson talked to the Journal on Wednesday night about how recruiting would suffer for his indoor team by losing beach volleyball. He said about 30 percent of his program’s recruiting pool is going to be taken off the table before recruiting even starts if UNM doesn’t offer prospective athletes the opportunity to play both indoor and beach volleyball like so many other universities in the Southwest are doing.

As for men’s soccer, the highest profile team of those that were voted to be eliminated on Thursday, head coach Jeremy Fishbein isn’t giving up on his program having a future at UNM, but is urging everyone to act now.

In an email sent Friday, Fishbein said “the sharks are already circling the waters,” referring to other major soccer programs already showing interest in his players. As of Friday afternoon, Fishbein told radio state 101.7 The Team no players had yet announced they would be leaving, but he also wanted decisions to be made by Monday afternoon.

All athletes on the four programs cut Thursday, including those on the men’s track teams that are being reduced and the women’s diving team, which is being phased out, are being granted immediate release from scholarships, UNM has said. That gives them the permission to talk to other schools about transferring to continue participating in their sport rather than staying one final season at UNM.

In his email to the media, Fishbein said now is the time to try to save his, and other, programs:

“Our heads are down and we are focussed,” he wrote. “New Mexico Lobo Soccer is a vital part of our community and we will not be CUT!”

“I believe in New Mexico and what is right….OUR PROGRAM IS WHAT IS RIGHT! My immediate concern is for our players. Per the direction of our administration, all men’s soccer players will be granted a full release to transfer institutions immediately. The sharks are already circling the waters!

“Unless the wrong is righted immediately, our best and brightest may be transferring within the next 72 hours. Offers are on the table from ACC schools, PAC-10 and Big-10 programs. How can we tell them to stay here … no assurance of a team to play on … only the LOVE OF OUR COMMUNITY. We need OUR program to be protected and our players to be assured they can wear a Lobo jersey for the next 4 years.”

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