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Tensions simmered between Davie, UNM throughout season

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Former Lobos football coach Bob Davie waits to greet senior players as they are introduced when they enter the field. Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Five days before the season opener, former Lobos football coach Bob Davie hand-delivered a memo to University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes and other university officials detailing concerns the coach had about the upcoming season.

It wasn’t just Xs and Os troubling the coach. In that memo and others he wrote throughout the season, Davie’s complaints ranged from too few trombones in the school’s marching band to the “public demonization of football” by UNM officials to men’s basketball coach Paul Weir’s receiving better treatment.

Near the end of the season, UNM and Davie parted ways. A settlement agreement signed by Stokes and Davie stipulated neither side would speak badly about the other. But documents recently released to the Journal reveal a sometimes contentious relationship between Davie and his bosses that went beyond the team’s poor performance on the field.

UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nunez. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

“I was aware of them, and I received a copy of them,” athletic director Eddie Nuñez said of the documents. “Everything that was presented by him was reviewed and addressed as necessary.”

Stokes said in a statement that she also read the letters and that any issues he raised were attended to by the university.

Davie declined to discuss his memos with the Journal.

Davie’s tepid final season was marred by issues, even before the losses started to mount. And he memorialized his complaints in 10 letters he delivered throughout the season to UNM officials, including Stokes, Nuñez and others, sometimes by hand.

UNM President Garnett Stokes. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

“I do not want to blow things up or point fingers at anyone,” Davie wrote days before the season started. “My reason is to try to find solutions, because I have a responsibility to our team and coaching staff.”

His complaints ran the gamut. Two of the more serious complaints were that football scholarship checks were late and the availability of mental health resources for players.

He also voiced concern about the ratio of UNM students and trombonists in the marching band. Only 25 members were available for the first game, about half the band members went to Central New Mexico Community College and there were only four trombone players – so the school had to cancel the traditional “Lobo Walk” before the game, he wrote.

School drug-testing policies, the portrayal of football’s role in the athletic department’s financial woes, the handling of police reports involving football players and the team’s “mindless” attendance goals also provoked the coach’s ire.

Documents released included few responses from UNM to Davie’s complaints. In mid-November, Davie emailed copies and summaries of his memos to Dorothy Anderson, UNM’s vice president of human resources.

Then his team lost to Boise State and Air Force before UNM announced that Davie and the university had “mutually agreed to part ways” at the end of the season.

A final loss to Utah State on Nov. 30 brought an end to the Davie era. The team finished on a nine-game skid and a 2-10 record.

In December, Davie and UNM reached a settlement in which the university agreed to pay Davie $825,000 over 30 months to go away with two years left on his coaching contract. He posted an overall record of 35-64 record through eight seasons.

Davie vs. the administration

Davie appeared to direct much of his frustrations at Nuñez and other administrators.

The first issue he raised days before the start of the season was that scholarship checks were late. A senior football player had been summoned to court over an eviction because, Davie said, the university was late in delivering scholarship checks. Davie also contended that 11 new junior college transfers on the team also had to go about two weeks without money for food because their checks were late.

Former football coach Bob Davie.

“It has been the same issue the past several years. I have told the athletic director every semester and the result does not change,” Davie wrote. “It is dangerous and morally wrong for the university and the athletic department to do business this way semester after semester.”

Davie also called the school’s game attendance goals for the upcoming season “mindless” and “reckless.”

“Sets everyone up for failure,” he wrote. “No one asked me – what is realistic?”

Davie attached a copy of the marketing plan to the memo, which set an average attendance goal of 22,000 fans per game and an overall revenue goal for the football season at $1.4 million, a 43% increase over the $980,000 in revenue the team posted in 2018.

Davie marked up the marketing plan. He circled the revenue projection, starred it multiple times and scribbled three underlined question marks in the margins next to it.

“Reckless to put into writing, then to have no plan,” Davie wrote in his memo, dated Aug. 26.

Five days after he delivered those memos to Stokes, her chief of staff, Nuñez and other university officials, Davie led his team to a 39-31 victory over Sam Houston State.

Shortly after the game, Davie, who was 65 at the start of the season, collapsed from an undisclosed “serious medical condition” and was rushed to the hospital. He would miss the next two games.

Battling through

While away from his team as he recovered from the medical condition, Davie continued to send letters complaining to Stokes about administrative decisions in the athletic department.

The week leading up to the game against Notre Dame, Davie raised concerns about changes that were made to the school’s drug-testing policies.

The next week, two days before the Lobos played in-state rival New Mexico State, Davie again raised concerns directly to Stokes. The memo questioned why his team’s grade-point average, which was roughly a 3.0, hadn’t been publicly released.

“We were informed that not releasing team GPAs stemmed from other teams not wanting their information released because of poor team GPAs,” Davie said.

The day before the rivalry game, Davie sent Stokes and athletic department administrators a letter about the university’s pushing a “false narrative” that the football team was spending above its approved budget. The letter also raised concerns that Davie was being treated differently from Weir, the basketball coach.

Davie said he saved the university about $135,000 by leaving two defensive coaching positions vacant for much of the offseason. He wanted to put that savings back into the football program to better feed his players, but Nuñez didn’t allow it, Davie wrote.

On the other hand, Davie reported that Weir also saved money in a similar fashion by leaving some assistant coaching positions vacant. But Weir was allowed to use the savings to purchase video equipment for his team, Davie said.

“The real issue continues to be dodged,” Davie wrote Stokes on Sept. 20. “Be honest and address it.”

The day after he sent that memo, the Lobos defeated the Aggies 55-52. Davie returned to the team, then sitting at 2-1 and yet to open conference play.

The Lobos lost their final nine games. And Davie continued to email grievances amid the losing streak.

In another letter, Davie asked UNM’s top attorney for the names of the witnesses who spoke against him in an internal investigation two years earlier.

UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity in January 2018 found after an investigation that Davie made inappropriate comments, but not in a way that was pervasive enough to violate university policies. Those were among the findings in an OEO report that lists Davie as the respondent.

On Oct. 29 and Nov. 11, Davie emailed Loretta Martinez, the university’s chief legal counsel, seeking the names of some of the witnesses who made statements against him in that investigation. Davie reported in one of the memos that for months he had been calling Martinez to discuss the matter but she never returned his calls.

“I am not seeking any retaliation against any of the individuals and I specifically have not requested any names of students athletes,” Davie wrote. “I simply want acknowledgement from the university.”

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