Kelvin Scarborough had a warning and felt no one was listening.
Lobo basketball players, the former New Mexico star guard was told, were out on the town partying, and he wanted to warn them to be careful.
He says he called UNM coach Steve Alford but got the brushoff.
Scarborough says he spoke with UNM athletic director Paul Krebs.
“I said, ‘Mr. Krebs, I hear things in the community about kids partying,’” Scarborough says.
Krebs says he suggested Scarborough, now the boys basketball coach at Menaul, contact an assistant athletic director who is in charge of the department’s life skills program.
Scarborough balked at the notion he should jump through hoops.
Next thing he knew, Scarborough was reading about Lobo Chad Adams being arrested for DWI one week, then about UNM senior Dairese Gary being charged with aggravated DWI the next.
Scarborough says if he had had the chance, he would have told the Lobos that if they go drinking Downtown, the spotlight will be on them.
“You don’t have pros in this city,” Scarborough says he would have told them. “You are the pros. Your behavior has to be one hundred percent. … You can’t be the one Downtown drinking the most drinks, abusing your girlfriend.”
Krebs says UNM has a “pretty significant life skills program for all our student athletes.”
He says the program advises student-athletes about making healthy choices, about social media networks, about drug and alcohol abuse. He says efforts are coordinated between the athletic department, the school’s Greek system and others on campus.
“No disregard to Kelvin,” Krebs says, “but we think we’ve got a pretty good program in place.”
Scarborough doesn’t want to hear about experts.
“I’ve got more credentials,” Scarborough says.
“You’re bringing in outsiders who don’t know what our kids are going through. They don’t know what the drug of choice is here.”
Scarborough also has a personal history, saying he went from “hero to zero.”
“When (Lobo) coaches knew I was partying back in the day,” Scarborough says, “they didn’t stop me. But it caught up to me in life.”
Scarborough was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in 1987, but the NBA team had concerns.
“When I go to sign a contract with the Nuggets,” Scarborough says, “they told me having all that money, with my lifestyle, would hurt me.
“And they were right. I would have been dead or in prison.”
He played some basketball overseas and partied as hard as he could afford. Then, in 1995, he hit bottom. He cleaned up his act, returned to UNM, paying his own way, and got his degree.
“He wants to be involved,” former Lobo Greg Brown says of Scarborough. “He wants to mentor. He’s a good person and because of his experiences, he’s good to talk to.”
Scarborough holds free basketball camps for kids, but says the emphasis isn’t so much on the games as it is on helping kids cope. Active Lobo basketball players used to take part. But that ended.
“Last year and a half,” Scarborough says, “they can’t come to Scar camp because Steve won’t let them.”
And a feud was born.
“If Scarborough has an issue,” Alford told the Journal in December, “he should be man enough to call me. … We do things in the community, we go to class, we win basketball games and we do it the right way. I’m not sure what his gripe is, but if he has an issue, he should be man enough to call me.”
“I’ve called Steve Alford three or four times,” Scarborough says. “He never called back.”
Krebs says coaches determine who talks to their teams, adding that UNM’s program has “some sophistication to it, and I encourage Kelvin to be part of that.”
For now, one of the most celebrated Lobos is on the outside, looking in.
Scarborough is not sure what to make of the absence of his image in the new Pit, despite his school-record 21 assists in one game, despite being UNM’s all-time leading steal leader, despite being third in career assists, despite being one of the top 12 scoring Lobos of all time.
UNM has said Scarborough eventually will be part of the Pit’s interactive piece, and that the priority on the permanent displays were given to conference championship teams.
“I don’t care if they put my picture up,” Scarborough says. “I couldn’t care less.
“They say I’m too outspoken. If that’s the case, I’m doing the right thing. I don’t have anything against them. I’m here to help Lobo basketball. I’m a Lobo for life. I won’t have anybody take that from me.”
Scarborough says he’s given talks at every university in New Mexico.
The one he came from.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal