A month-by-month look at New Mexico sports in 2020:
Warning: A tough month for Lobo basketball. Proceed with caution.
Lobo basketball player Carlton Bragg is accused of sexual assault, arrested for DWI and booted from the team … Lobo point guard J.J. Caldwell sues UNM after his dismissal amid accusations of domestic violence … The Lobo men lose at Colorado State by 33 points … UNM women’s player Jayla Everett opts to transfer … The UNM men get blown out at UNLV, but they’re 13-0 on the season at the Pit … A former women’s player accuses coach Mike Bradbury of abusive behavior, but other former players rally to his defense … Former Lobos head coach Steve Alford, now at Nevada, gets his 600th career win by beating the Lobos in Reno … Rachel Balkovec, a former UNM softball player, is hired by the New York Yankees as a hitting coach. … Rocky Long, former Lobos quarterback and head coach, returns to his alma mater as defensive coordinator. … A UNM athlete is shot while attending a party at an Air B&B property rented for the occasion by Lobo men’s basketball player JaQuan Lyle. … San Diego State routs the Lobo men in the Pit, 85-57… Mercifully, January ends.
Not much better than January. The Lobo men blow a 17-point lead, lose at Fresno State … Caldwell is charged with misdemeanor battery … Former Lobo basketball Kenny Thomas earns his degree from UNM, almost 21 years after his final game. Congrats … Alford and his Nevada assistant Craig Neal, also a former UNM head coach, return to the Pit with an 88-74 victory over the Lobos … The family of Nahje Flowers, a UNM football player who committed suicide in 2019, files a lawsuit against the school … The Lobo men end the month on a positive note with an upset of Utah State.
A quiet month, but a storm is brewing. The UNM men and women make a quick exit from the Mountain West tournament with losses to Utah State and Nevada … The New Mexico Gladiators’ debut season in the Indoor Football League is canceled, as is the IFL season … UNM men’s player Vance Jackson announces he’ll transfer.
Not your typical spring. Albuquerque resident and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones pleads guilty to DWI … Vance Jackson will transfer to Arkansas … Albuquerque’s Land Clark, an NFL game official, is promoted to referee … Kory Alford, former La Cueva and UNM basketball player, is hired as head coach at Huntington College in Indiana … Lobo men’s player Vante Hendrix enters the transfer portal.
Or May not. UNM athletics has a $3.5 million shortfall, largely due to COVID-19 … Aggies men’s basketball coach Chris Jans gets a contract extension … La Cueva boys basketball coach Frank Castillo retires after 735 wins and five state titles … The New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame postpones its 2020 banquet to April 2021 … UNM men’s basketball assistant Jerome Robinson leaves … Lobos men’s player Tavian Percy enters the transfer portal.
COVID in full swing, sports in full disarray. Jon Jones says he’s renouncing his UFC light heavyweight title, wants out of his contract … From the Journal’s Steve Virgen: Former UNM soccer players Lana Melendres-Groves and Olivia Ferrier and former Lobo cheerleader Delilah Davila battle the coronavirus on the front lines as doctors and nurses … The Isotopes announce furloughs for most of their staff … Albuquerque-based MMA fighter Devin Clark makes news beyond the cage when he kneels before a fight in a call for social justice … News of the World on June 9: Tom Hanks is spied wearing a Lobo pullover … The Isotopes/Mariachis’ “gorra” headwear wins top honors … The sponsorship marriage between UNM athletics and Dreamstyle Remodeling is on the rocks … New Mexico United will play an abbreviated-by-COVID 15-game schedule … Former Kentucky great Scott Padgett to be hired as a UNM assistant.
Commitments, or sometimes the lack thereof. More discouraging news re: UNM and Dreamstyle … Lobo football gets a commitment from a Bear (Milacek, a QB from Arizona) … New Mexico State athletics announces 20 positive COVID tests … No football or soccer in the fall, Gov. MLG says, but cross country and volleyball could still be viable … NM United beats Colorado Springs 2-1 in its first match since March 7 … La Cueva’s Ja’Shon Lowery is the fourth NM player to commit to UNM football … The NMAA announces its plan for football, soccer in spring 2021; Jackson-Wink MMA fighter Chris Brown tests positive, misses a fight but hits a deer on the way home … The 2020 New Mexico Games are canceled, ending executive director Fred Hultberg’s 30-year tenure … For the second straight year, Lobo women’s golf is No. 1 in the nation for team GPA … MLG urges UNM, NMSU to cancel fall sports … Due to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, the Colorado Rockies will not use Isotopes Park as its “taxi squad” home base as previously planned … UNM and NMSU football lose two high-paying “guarantee” games apiece with teams from Big Ten, Pac-12 opponents.
Football’s around the corner. But which corner? The Duke City Marathon cancels its event for 2020 but plans to stage two in 2021 … Albuquerque native Angelo Leo becomes New Mexico’s sixth boxing world champion … The Mountain West announces it is canceling all fall sports … Lobo men’s basketball player Zane Martin is leaving … New Mexico State will not play football in 2020 … UNM basketball assistant Brandon Mason resigns after a DWI arrest … Jon Jones officially vacates the UFC light heavyweight title, says he’ll campaign as a heavyweight … UNM football legend Brian Urlacher creates a stir with his comments about the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Quietest September ever. Carlsbad grad Trevor Rogers makes his Major League pitching debut with a victory for the Florida Marlins … Former UNM golfer John Catlin wins the Andalucia Masters in Spain … Longtime Valley boys basketball coach Joe Coleman retires … Yes, the MWC will play football this fall after all … Former Albuquerque High and UNM basketball star Greg Brown takes over as boys head coach at AHS.
Empty stadiums abound. UNM athletic-department contracts provide for the possibility of furloughs. … Sandia girls basketball star Viane Cumber “flips” from Texas Tech to UNM … MLG: no prep sports this fall … NM United beats San Antonio FC in its USL playoff debut … Once again, the NCAA rejects the renovated Pit as an NCAA Tournament site … Lobo football paused by nine positive tests … NMU’s season ends with a loss on PKs to El Paso … UNM’s football opener at Colorado State is canceled due to New Mexico COVID guidelines … Former Air Force men’s head coach Dave Pilipovic joins Paul Weir’s staff at UNM … UNM athletics is taken off the hook for repaying its seven-figure debt … Lobo football loses its 2020 opener vs. San Jose State.
Not a lot to be thankful for. State colleges and universities to MLG: Please let us play. … Lobo men’s and women’s basketball teams head for West Texas, NMSU to Arizona … The New Mexico Bowl is to be played in Frisco, Texas on Dec. 24.
Finally, the end. UNM track and cross country All-American Weini Kelati turns pro … The Lobo basketball women are 3-0, setting a single-game scoring record with a 120-66 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff … Lobo football snaps losing streaks of 14 (overall) and 20 (conference) with a 17-16 win over Wyoming. The Lobos end their season with a 49-39 victory over Fresno State as walk-on freshman quarterback Isaiah Chavez leads the way … Rip Griffin Center at Lubbock (Texas) Christian University is the UNM men’s home court for now. The Lobos are 3-2, but the two losses, to conference rival Boise State, are brutal beyond description.