University of New Mexico men’s basketball assistant coach Brandon Mason has been suspended with pay from his duties with the program after an early Friday arrest and charge of aggravated DWI, a misdemeanor.
“At this time, Coach Mason is suspended from all coaching duties until further notice,” according to a statement from UNM. “When the timing is appropriate, the department will provide an update on the situation.”
UNM’s statement also indicated it would take no media questions about the arrest, though the matter is now in the hands of police and Metropolitan Court.
Lobos head coach Paul Weir declined further comment when reached by the Journal, and a message left with Mason has not been returned.
Mason was booked and released on personal recognizance Friday morning from the Metropolitan Detention Center and is scheduled for a Sept. 1 bond arraignment in Metro Court.
A criminal complaint filed in Metro Court on Friday indicates Mason was pulled over in the area of Paseo del Norte and Louisiana shortly after midnight on Friday when a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy reported seeing Mason leave a private business without stopping and failing to stay in his lane of traffic.
Once pulled over, the police filing indicates, the deputy reportedly “observed signs of impairment,” though Mason said he had not been drinking and agreed to take field sobriety tests.
The deputy reported Mason performed poorly on horizontal gaze testing and Mason told the officer he had back surgery a year ago and it was “impossible” for him to stand in the position the officer was asking him to stand in.
Mason was then arrested and was asked to take a breathalyzer and reportedly refused, adding the aggravated enhancement to the DWI charge per New Mexico’s implied consent law.
Mason, 39, has coached with the Lobos for the past three years and was previously the video coordinator under former Lobo coaches Steve Alford and Craig Neal before moving on to be an assistant coach at New Mexico Highlands University. He worked in support staff roles at NMSU and UNLV before returning to take the Lobos job in 2017 under head coach Paul Weir.
The former Aggie player was recruited to New Mexico State by Lou Henson, and Mason has taken Henson’s recent death hard. As UNM’s recruiting coordinator, Mason also was very close to former Santa Fe High star J.B. White, who was committed to play for the Lobos this season but was shot and killed one week after Henson died.
Mason, the father of three boys who were close with White as well, has admitted on social media that he’s had a hard time. After White’s death, he referenced how his own mother was killed in gun violence when Mason was 4 years old in Chicago — where, he noted, several of his friends when he was growing up also had been gunned down.
“I have 3 boys that I have to protect from GUNS. I’m hurting,” Mason wrote.