So, about those suites.
University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Paul Weir said Thursday he understands the angry reaction from fans who read a Journal article earlier this week about his desire to explore a project to convert unused Pit suites to office space.
Especially in the wake of recent sports cuts, and the article’s reference to a potential $2 million price tag for the project, Weir knows the timing isn’t ideal.
“I would never intend to harm those people,” Weir said. “Anyone that took me asking permission to look into those things in an offensive way, you have my sincerest apologies. … The last thing I would ever want to be is a polarizing person here or a divisive person.”
He also wasn’t suggesting the article was inaccurate in any way or that he isn’t still interested in at least exploring the idea.
The reaction to the article by some, despite the sentiment not being addressed in the article, was that Weir is asking for money for a potentially controversial building project at a time when UNM is still reeling from the recent Board of Regents vote to eliminate four sports for financial and Title IX gender equity reasons.
“At no point did I ask, or anyone that I am aware of, ask for $2 million or ask for anything substantial on this project,” Weir said.
Weir first emailed UNM Executive Vice President David Harris on June 15, before sports were cut at UNM, asking how to start researching such a project. A series of emails through August got him nowhere, so he met with the regents at Tuesday’s Finance and Facilities committee meeting.
Weir asked who he needs to get approval from to explore the idea. It was Harris who said Tuesday that the proposed project would cost $2 million, and at no point did Weir ask for that money, though there was discussion of using $150,000 in state-appropriated capital outlay money that has already been specifically earmarked for basketball facility upgrades.
“I think as coaches, we get blinders on sometimes,” Weir said. “We just do what we can for the best interest of our program or our team, or whatever. Maybe as I went down that road, I didn’t remove enough of those to maybe think about everything. And as we continue to go down that road, if that sentiment becomes paramount, I have no problem admitting, ‘Hey, maybe it wasn’t the greatest idea.’ And move in another direction. I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong.”
28 IS GREAT: Weir said he’s hoping for two more games for the schedule, but they aren’t finalized. The Lobos have 28 games scheduled, but Weir doesn’t want to put them up online until the other games are official.
“I do love the 28 we have scheduled and we’ll probably put those up (online) here at some point soon so people can see them,” Weir said. “I didn’t want to confuse everybody. There’s some teams that have put up their schedules and then changed opponents or changed dates … and I just thought that was a little messy so I didn’t go ahead with that.”
Several Division I programs are awaiting a Sept. 17 deadline for the NCAA to rule on numerous waiver requests by teams still trying to add games for the coming season. Several multi-team exempt tournaments have been canceled this year, causing much of the scheduling issues.
CHERRY/SILVER GAME: The Lobos will again play a “Cherry/Silver” game scrimmage that is not meant as a replacement of the Lobo Howl exhibition event.
The Lobo Howl would incorporate the women’s team, too, and would again be free to the public. It wasn’t held last season after several years of dwindling attendance at what had become an October tradition.
This season, like last October’s “Cherry/Silver” scrimmage at Johnson Gym, UNM will again hold a scrimmage and “I would like to have a charitable component to it, ” Weir said.
There is no decision on whether there will be a Lobo Howl this season.
BRAGG UPDATE: Carlton Bragg, the former Kansas Jayhawks player who transferred to UNM in January last fall from Arizona State, is still enrolled at UNM, still using one of the basketball program’s 13 available scholarships and still practicing daily with the Lobos.
He just still hasn’t cleared Weir’s requirements to be added to the team’s online roster nor has the NCAA ruled on whether he can play at the beginning of the season (Nov. 6 is the season opener at Cal-State Northridge) or Dec. 16 at home against Central Arkansas, the first game after fall semester grades are posted.
NOTES: The Lobos will host before the season a yet-to-be-scheduled high school coaches clinic in the Pit. … UNM will also team up with the Albuquerque Police Department this fall for a VIN etching event to help combat auto theft, Weir said. The event is not yet scheduled.