UNM Athletics CFO Robinson lasts a year, resigns

UNM associate athletic director and chief financial officer Rob Robinson, center, seen here with regent Rob Doughty, left, , and athletic director Eddie Nunez , has stepped down, it was announced Monday. (Andres Leighton/For the Journal)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Less than a year after being tasked with the arduous job of trying to make sense of the books in the UNM Athletics Department after years of deficits and questionable budgetary practices led to multiple audits and the ongoing oversight of the state’s Higher Education Department, Rob Robinson is heading back home to Tennessee.

Robinson, who started as Senior Associate Athletic Director/Chief Financial Officer on Jan. 3, will be leaving UNM in the next month to join a law firm in his home state, Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez told the Journal on Monday afternoon. He has a law degree from the University of Tennessee.

“I have long aspired to put my law degree into practice,” Robinson said in an emailed news release sent to media at 7 p.m. Monday. “The opportunity that presented itself back in Tennessee was one I just couldn’t pass up.”

His $105,000 job will be filled, though won’t be structured the same way as it is now, Nuñez said, though he would not elaborate on the specifics. In recent months, UNM started shifting more and more duties from athletics to a “shared services” model with similar positions based on main campus. That includes many of the athletic department’s business office positions.

Yvonne Otts, the former Director of Business Operations for Lobo athletics, resigned in August 2017 and was never replaced. Robinson absorbed some of her duties in addition to overseeing all budgetary matters for Lobo athletics.

“I would like to thank Eddie, President (Garnett) Stokes, the Board of Regents and all of my wonderful colleagues at UNM for their support over the past year,” Robinson said. “My time here has been an invaluable experience, especially working with such a dedicated and creative team.”

Robinson was a regular at every Board of Regents meeting and all Regent Finance and Facility committee meetings in his year in Albuquerque, often having to update monthly balance sheets to the board and be on hand for questioning about repeated questionable financial dealings in the department that came under intense media scrutiny in recent years followed by multiple state agencies doing the same.

“He came in at a point where we needed to completely overhaul the way the Athletic Department’s finances and policies were managed,” Nuñez said. “In a relatively short period of time, Rob has updated our business policies and procedures, helped the department address all the various audit and HED issues, and put Lobo Athletics on more stable financial footing.”

It is unclear when the new position within the athletics department that will serve as the replacement to Robinson will be posted for applicants or what, specifically, the job title or description will be.

The title of CFO hasn’t been a mainstay position in athletics despite the department’s responsibility to oversee a $33 million annual budget that is largely comprised of student fees, direct support from main campus and taxpayer funds. When financial troubles mounted, the lack of having a person in that position often was used as a main contributing factor.

Michael Marcelli last held that position for UNM athletics, but left the job after just 10 months. There was not a CFO from his departure in May 2016 until Robinson started this past January.

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