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UNM paying $50K to search firm for football coach

When it comes to the salary of University of New Mexico’s next football coach, Lobos athletic director Eddie Nuñez does not want to target a range, as it will most likely depend on the hire, he said.

As for the resources to make the hire — in particular a search firm — that, too, comes at a price.

UNM is paying search firm DHR International $50,000 to aid in hiring UNM’s next football coach, Nuñez said on Tuesday after the Board of Regents meeting. That is the same price UNM paid Parker Executive Search during its hiring an athletic director, the job Nuñez accepted, two years ago.

Payments for a search firm certainly vary.

UNM paid up to $126,000 for the firm Isaacson, Miller for “the initial part of the search” to hire the university’s provost, the Journal reported earlier this year.

The search for UNM president Garnett Stokes? That went for $110,000, also to Isaacson, Miller along with then-regent president Rob Doughty chairing a 20-person search committee at UNM.

Back when Paul Weir was hired as the Lobos men’s basketball coach in 2017, UNM did not use a search firm. Instead, then-athletic director Paul Krebs and a small committee handled the process.

In October 2011, after football Mike Locksley was dismissed early in the season and before bringing on Bob Davie, UNM hired North Carolina-based consulting and search firm called Collegiate Sports Associates for $25,000 plus expenses.

Nuñez said he wanted to use a search firm for what is essentially the most important hire in his two years at UNM because of other universities hiring football coaches and sorting through the rumor mill.

“It’s understanding who truly (has) our interest and has that same feeling in return,” Nuñez said last week.

“And, finding out some of those questions that right now we need to understand, if they are truly invested into this opportunity or if it’s just a ploy to get something else. … We want to make sure (the search firm is) helping us do our due diligence.”

Sometimes search firms can ensure confidentiality in the process, yet, names still tend to circulate: in this case, the most obvious being Danny Gonzales, the Arizona State defensive coordinator who is a former UNM football player and assistant coach.

Gonzales and UNM have expressed mutual interest.

Curtis Luper, TCU’s offensive coordinator and a former UNM assistant, has also been reached for interest in the job, the Journal has learned.

Nuñez, on Tuesday, said he has met with some possible candidates and spoken to others by telephone, but he would not say who.

Nuñez said no job offer has been made, but he feels that the hire will be made soon.

“It feels very close, but very close can change in a moment’s notice,” he said. “But I feel strongly about where we are and the individuals we are looking at strongly. I think we are going to have an opportunity to seal this pretty soon.”

He said the interest level in the job remains “strong,” and that he doesn’t believe he has lost any prospects despite the openings at fellow Mountain West Conference programs UNLV, Colorado State and Fresno State.

Dave Aranda, LSU’s defensive coordinator, is in “serious negotiations” to become UNLV’s head coach, Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday. Later, The Associated Press reported that unidentified sources said the school had offered Aranda the position.

Urban Meyer, who last coached at Ohio State, is advising Colorado State on its hire, according to FootballScoop.com.

In addition to DHR International, Nuñez will also rely on his background, which includes 14 years at LSU.

He said last week that he also has spoken to former UNM coaches Rocky Long and Dennis Franchione for advice. Long brings his San Diego State team here to play in the New Mexico Bowl against Central Michigan on Dec. 21.

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