With more than a year and a half remaining on his contract, University of New Mexico Deputy Athletic Director Brad Hutchins has been fired.
And the decision will cost Lobo athletics a $175,000 buyout that was negotiated down from $225,000 called for on his contract.
Citing a yearlong evaluation process of the department and the need for continuing to change the way UNM athletics has gone about its business, especially in terms of securing fiscal stability and accountability, Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez confirmed Hutchins signed termination papers on Wednesday, and suggested more change could be coming.
“Changes will be continuing for UNM as we approach the end of this year,” Nuñez said in a statement. “We have a mutual payout agreement of $175,000. Brad will soon be leaving the Lobos family and we wish him nothing but the best in the future. I want to thank him for his service.
“In coming days and weeks I will be announcing other changes at UNM. We will be replacing Brad, and we will be discussing additional guidelines and policies consistent with building the kind of athletic department we believe is expected.”
As for the timing, specific reason or reality that a buyout in a department under continued financial scrutiny likely won’t be well received, Nuñez would not elaborate beyond his statement about the need for change.
Hutchins did not return a text message and the voice mail on his telephone would not accept new messages on Wednesday when the Journal was seeking comment. But he posted on his Twitter account a message thanking coworkers and the Lobos community for the past 14 years he’s lived and worked in Albuquerque (his full statement is attached at the bottom of this article).
Former Athletic Director Paul Krebs on March 16, 2016, extended Hutchins a multi-year contract through June 2020. That contract originally paid Hutchins $140,000 annually, but was contractually bumped to $150,000 on July 1, 2017.
He and fellow Deputy Athletic Director Janice Ruggiero, who is in charge of Internal Operations as opposed to Hutchins’ External Operations responsibilities, were each given multi-year contracts — though such guaranteed deals are very rare for those positions at UNM and other universities around the country.
Hutchins, who graduated from Missouri State and has a masters from Canisius College, will remain on staff through the end of the month.
Among the feathers in Hutchins’ cap as listed on his bio page on the GoLobos.com athletics department website include being a part of securing and negotiating major gifts, including the U.S. Bank naming rights for the premium seating sections at Dreamstyle Arena — the Pit and Dreamstyle Stadium, as well has his part in securing the naming rights with Tamaya Enterprises and Lobo baseball for Santa Ana Star Field.
Hutchins also oversaw the implementation of liquor sales at Lobo sporting events and for getting two official beers created for UNM in the past two years, one now defunct and the other named El Lobo Rojo from Rio Bravo Brewing.
His job duties included overseeing UNM athletics branding and marketing. He oversaw matters from communications and LoboTV to the school’s multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership with Learfield Sports and one with Nike as the Lobos’ official apparel partner.
Hutchins was also the public fall guy at a March Board of Regents meeting when public and media heat was really mounting for answers about years of athletics missed budgets that the Board had signed off on.
Hutchins had presented the previous year’s budget on behalf of Krebs in the spring of 2017. When that budget, as many others in the past decade had done, was clearly headed for another year in the red, Hutchins was left to answer for it.
“I want to know right now, in front of everybody, why are we $3.3 million in the hole when I was promised last year that we had a balanced budget?” Regent President Rob Doughty intensely questioned Hutchins, who could not offer a satisfactory answer.
Whether that exchange played into this decision, Nuñez wouldn’t say. Instead, he kept the reasoning vague and said he was optimistic about the future of the program.
“I am excited about the future of Lobos sports,” Nuñez said. “What will never change at UNM is our commitment to winning and to making the college experience for every student athlete as rewarding as possible competitively, academically, and culturally.”
The following is the full text Hutchins posted Wednesday on his Twitter account:
“Want to take a minute to thank everyone for our family into the ABQ community the past 14 plus years. We have made lifelong friends and have truly embraced this city, state and University. Want to also thank the athletics staff and the University staff that work tirelessly, it was a privilege to have worked alongside you. For those of you who truly know us, this goes without saying that we strongly encourage you to support the Lobo student-athletes and programs.
“This business is about people and your willingness to serve the people you represent. Thank you for allowing me to serve you and thank you for the tremendous memories.
“Wish the department much success and look forward to the next opportunity!”
Thank you #Lobonation! #GoLobos pic.twitter.com/M2qDfLf6tO
— Brad D. Hutchins (@BradDHutchins) December 5, 2018