There were a couple opportunities for University of New Mexico offensive lineman Kyle Stapley to back out of an agreement to shave the beard that he had grown for over three years.
But Stapley, a junior center and a team captain, eventually said, “Why not?” It was to raise money for the UNM Scholarship Fund, and he believed it could be a great team-building event.
And, with that, he let the beard go on Friday – for $5,000 from booster Dee Dennis.
Dennis won the unique auction item during UNM’s Cherry & Silver Gala last week at the Hyatt. Stapley lost his beard, but he won, too.
“I feel lighter,” Stapley told the Journal on Friday. “More aerodynamic.”
Stapley, 23, said that could give him more speed entering the Lobos’ season opener against Sam Houston State at Dreamstyle Stadium on Aug. 31.
The last time he shaved it was June 10, 2016, he said, after he completed his two-year mission in Iowa for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Stapley, a transfer from Snow Community College in Ephraim, Utah, was named a team captain on Thursday. The 6-foot-3, 307-pounder arrived at UNM last year, when he was moved to center for the first time and earned the starting job last summer.
Stapley was one of four UNM football players who volunteered to help at the fundraising event last week. Coach Bob Davie said it was an impromptu auction item that he announced during the event and felt remorse for putting Stapley up to shave off his beard. But Stapley calmed the eighth-year coach, telling him he really wanted to do it.
Davie expressed gratefulness for Stapley and Dennis.
“These are two guys who really do things for the right reasons,” Davie said.
The bid started at $1,000 and quickly shot up to $4,500, Dennis said. The goal was for $5,000.
“Everyone was engaged during the bidding,” said Dennis, a UNM walk-on football player in 1972. “I was really excited about it. The bid got to $4,500 and I didn’t want to let it stay there.”
Dennis joined several of Stapley’s teammates in the UNM locker room to shear off the big guy’s beard.
David Zavala, Teton Saltes, Javon Mosely, Austin Cook, Beau Hott, Saga Tuitele, Jarred Sylvester, Chris Estrella and Dennis took turns. Estrella finished it off.
“It feels really good to contribute and help out,” Stapley said. “I’ll grow it back. It’ll be OK.”