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Not coaching, but Craig Neal is back in basketball, for a while

It’s not a coaching gig, but Craig Neal is back in hoops for a bit.

The former University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach has been named the Director of Basketball for AS Monaco, a multi-sport club based in Monaco most well known for its AS Monaco FC soccer team.

It’s a short-term, consulting situation, he says. And one he’s really enjoying.

“It is all the youth programs in Monaco from U21 to U9 years old (level teams),” Neal told the Journal in a text exchange on Thursday.

“I am only here for five weeks and volunteering my time and consulting them on how to build youth programs for the country.”

While social media posts from the team, both on Facebook and Twitter, show Neal holding a basketball jersey and announcing his “recruitment” as new director, Neal said he’s just there for a short time and helping the organization set up an infrastructure similar to the soccer/fútbol academies known throughout Europe that start kids at a young age in a system and feed into the pro-level clubs.

Neal is still getting paid $1 million by UNM through the end of March 2019, as part of a 24-month buyout clause he had when he was fired on March 31, 2017. That sum is reduced if he takes another coaching job. He has over the past year and a half spent much of his time away from coaching getting to watch his son his son, Eldorado High and UNM graduate Cullen Neal, finish his college career and now he will be able to see him start his professional career.

Cullen Neal, who after earning a degree from UNM played for both Ole Miss and Saint Mary’s as a graduate transfer, signed his first professional contract with Rosa Radom in Poland, about 60 miles south of Warsaw.

Cullen Neal’s team has had an exhibition game, but doesn’t start its season until Sept. 26.