Tough times and decisions await UNM Athletics - Albuquerque Journal

Tough times and decisions await UNM Athletics

There were really no more answers on Tuesday for UNM Athletics about what this all means after Monday’s somewhat surprising announcement that the Mountain West Conference has postponed football and all other fall sports indefinitely.

Sure, athletic director Eddie Nuñez understands the micro – football and other sports, including the perennial national championship-contending women’s cross country team, won’t be competing any time soon due to concerns over COVID-19, and there is some comfort in knowing those difficult decisions have been made.

“We now understand that we have to take a different path,” Nuñez said Tuesday. “… The sun came out today. We’re taking this as the next challenge that’s in front of us – that’s the way we’re doing it as a staff, as coaches as student-athletes. We can only do what we’re capable of doing. And these challenges, these different opportunities that are presented in front of us, we’ll tackle them one by one and try to have a plan in place that will allow our student-athletes to be able to do what they do best: To be students and student-athletes and also be able to do it at a high level.”

But as far as the macro, it’s hard for Nuñez, UNM or any athletic department to have a good read just yet on how any of this will ultimately affect the department because things keep changing.

While the mid-March bandage pull of so many sports coming to a screeching halt in the course of a couple days was painful, it at least seemed to allow more moving forward. Now, gut-punch sports decisions seem to be trickling out daily since mid-July, when New Mexico first announced high school contact sports would be pushed from fall to spring. Then there was the looming cloud of a letter Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent the state’s universities making it clear she wanted them to not play this fall.

Even after Monday’s Mountain West news broke, Tuesday brought with it confirmation the Big Ten postponed football and the Pac-12 postponed all sports the rest of the calendar year, which now introduces major college basketball schedule interruptions as that sport starts in November.

For UNM, basketball isn’t forgotten, but hasn’t been the front burner issue of late.

“Currently we are working on the fall sports,” Nuñez told the Journal when asked about the Pac-12’s decision and how it affects Lobo men’s and women’s basketball. “As well as there are ongoing discussions between the MWC and all member institutions regarding the status and the opportunities of winter sports.”

And since MWC football was merely postponed, and not canceled, Nuñez said he’s still trying to figure out what all that means in terms of finances.

The Journal reported in May Lobo athletics was projecting a more than $3 million shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30, almost entirely due to COVID-19-related lost revenue streams. Those books still haven’t closed, UNM says, but the Journal anticipates the shortfall to close to that.

As for the current fiscal year, without knowing yet what moving football to the spring could mean (UNM lost more than $2 million when September games against USC and Mississippi State were erased), and what the TV money from the league might look like if they do play in the spring, Nuñez said he just doesn’t want to speculate yet.

“We can’t take this as a singular situation that’s only occurring in New Mexico,” Nuñez said. “… (I)t’s going to happen in the Group of 5, it’s happening the Power 5. When Wisconsin comes out and says if we don’t play football, that’s $100 million in the hole that we’re going to be facing? Everybody has to look at their situation and say ‘what can we do to overcome this?’ .”

Wisconsin said last month no football could mean a loss of $100 million for that program and on Tuesday said layoffs would have to be coming now. Nuñez has not made any such decisions for Lobo athletics.

WHAT ABOUT BOB? The buyout for Bob Davie, the former UNM football coach, is not being affected by the moving or even a potential loss of football this season. The university says the money earmarked to cover the cost of the roughly $825,000 buyout is coming from a payday football game in 2021, not one of the ones lost this 2020 season.

Home » Sports » College » UNM Lobos » Tough times and decisions await UNM Athletics


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
UNM's defense turns it up a notch
College
It was a Lobo defense takeover ... It was a Lobo defense takeover on Day 5 of preseason camp. UNM's defense made several plays and secured at least five interceptions on ...
2
Lobo safeties Reed, Combs expect big, busy 2022 seasons
College
Safeties have big responsibility in Lobos’ ... Safeties have big responsibility in Lobos’ 3-3-5 scheme
3
Montes excited to compete as Lobos preseason camp begins
College
UNM football coaches and even quarterback ... UNM football coaches and even quarterback CJ Montes himself would tell you not to buy in too much that he took the first snaps ...
4
Will Lobos compete? Gonzales challenges fans to see for ...
College
Throughout Danny Gonzales' first two seasons ... Throughout Danny Gonzales' first two seasons as head coach of his alma mater, the University of New ...
5
Lobos-Aggies to kick off at 6 on Oct. 15
College
New Mexico State has announced kickoff ... New Mexico State has announced kickoff times for five of its six home football games — all of them except the Aug. 27 season ...
6
Carlon to begin coaching career with UNM men’s golf ...
College
Sean Carlon is coming back home ... Sean Carlon is coming back home to the Lobos. Carlon, the former University of New Mexico and Hope Christian standout, is returning to UNM ...
7
Lobo hoops notes: Pitino completes staff with Mountain West ...
ABQnews Seeker
The UNM Lobos have hired Tarvish ... The UNM Lobos have hired Tarvish Felton, formerly of Fresno State and Utah State, to complete its hoops coaching staff.
8
New online NIL marketplace connects fans to college athletes
College
Fans who want to financially support ... Fans who want to financially support college athletes through name, image and likeness deals can now do so with just a few clicks online. ...
9
NMSHOF extends ticket discount
Boys' Basketball
The New Mexico Sports Hall of ... The New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame has extended through Friday a discounted price of $75 for tickets to its Aug. 20 induction banquet ...