Schmidly: Mistakes Made, But No Cover-Up

University of New Mexico President David Schmidly began a Wednesday morning news conference to discuss the school’s “bungling” of an investigation involving football coach Mike Locksley’s physical altercation with an assistant coach with a sports anecdote.

“Vin Scully, a famous (baseball) broadcaster, once said there are three sides to every story,” Schmidly said to a room full of local media, Lobo coaches and athletic support staff packed in a room on the upper level of the UNM Student Union Building. “There’s your side, their side and the truth.”

Schmidly applied it to Locksley’s incident involving wide receivers coach J.B. Gerald.

“This is exactly what we’ve seen play out in our investigation that occurred on the night of Sept. 20,” Schmidly said. “We’ve done the best we can to get to the truth and determine exactly what happened in that meeting. Throughout that process, that’s been our number one concern. … We’ve bungled the process in the areas I’ve mentioned and we’ve already taken steps to correct and refine our procedural issues. But I am not aware of any direct evidence that would suggest a cover-up.”

Neither those introductory comments, nor what transpired over the course of the next 50 minutes of a question-and-answer session with Schmidly, vice president for athletics Paul Krebs and vice president for Human Resources Helen Gonzales seemed to pacify several media members.

UNM has been answering questions about the altercation since Sept. 28, when a police report Gerald filed three hours after a Sept. 20 offensive staff meeting became public.

Reporters themselves pulled no punches.

“Dr. Schmidly, these are major mistakes,” one KRQE news reporter asserted. “The university broke law, they lied to us about having these documents and not releasing them to News 13, will someone be punished for this?”

“I think the word ‘lie’ is a little strong.” Schmidly said. “Mistakes were made. It was an honest mistake. There was no attempt to lie.”

Another KRQE reporter demanded of Krebs, “You mentioned you did not know or did not understand the policy that you were supposed to call central HR? How could you not know that?”

Different media members demanded Wednesday to know what the assistant coaches said to Gonzales so they could clarify why Garbiso’s notes indicated three of the assistants saw Locksley had choked Gerald and one claimed Locksley “was swinging at Gerald” while Gonzales reported to Locksley she could not verify choking or the throwing of punches.

Gonzales reiterated she was directing her investigation to the information in the police report, in which Gerald claimed Locksley punched him in the mouth and only grabbed his collar.

Schimdly apologized to local media, most of whom had requested any and all documents pertaining to the investigation under the New Mexico Open Records Act, that ESPN received its copy of the information at least several days before any local media had.

In describing the mishandling of the investigation, the UNM representatives seemed to throw Garbiso under the bus — saying she just was not aware of UNM policies.

“I think it’s important to note that Shannon Garbiso is not a Human Resources employee,” Gonzales said. “She works for the athletics department and is not trained in conducting investigations.”

Added Schmidly, “What would’ve really helped in this situation would’ve been when the HR officer in athletics first was made aware of this, if there would’ve been to Helen and then also to Paul because Helen could then have said ‘Our policies require that this be investigated outside of the unit where the incident occurred.’”

Krebs said he took full responsibility for not knowing university policy, which led him to try to solve the matter initially without consulting Human Resources.

“For that, I am sorry that this has added to the confusion,” he said. “And while we misapplied HR policy, in the end when all was said and done, I believe we got to the right place.”

Krebs added that in his 30 years in athletics administration, he’s never had his integrity challenged.

The news conference ended on an ugly note for UNM when it tried to wrap up the session.

“We’re not done,” one reporter blurted. “I have some more questions. I’d like to know why police aren’t investigating any this? Not even UNM police? No criminal investigation at all for blatant criminal misconduct, it’s an assault and battery even if you won’t admit the choking.

“I would like to know what word you would use with a contact it is with the lip that makes it bleed and the pressure on the collar that it makes it hard to breathe. You won’t use ‘punch’ or ‘choke.’ What word would you use?”

Gonzales reiterated she based her investigation on Gerald’s statement in the police report and what the assistant coaches told her, and UNM sent the media on their way.

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