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What’s UNM’s AD looking for in next Lobo hoops coach?

Fans lined up early outside The Pit before the Lobo How in 2013. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

On to the next.

We know the Paul Weir era as Lobo basketball coach has come to an end – or will whenever UNM is finished at the upcoming Mountain West tournament.

But what does Eddie Nuñez, UNM’s athletic director who says he is not planning to hire a search firm to assist in finding the next Lobo hoops coach, want in the next coach for Lobo basketball? Here are those answers in his own words from a media session he held Saturday morning:

Job criteria

“My first, number one point – and that’s in any coach, in any administrator that I have here – it’s character and integrity. If I if a coach doesn’t have the character integrity that I need here, I’m not interested, I don’t care how many games you won.”

• • •

“Second, player development. Can they develop players on and off the court and in life? We’re all going through major challenges right now with COVID. It’s going to need somebody who cannot just help them get better basketball wise, but basically help them prepare as individuals. I’m not saying that it hasn’t happened, what I’m saying is that is what I’m looking for.”

• • •

“Third, and this is a little different now. It was one of mine for football. It was cultural fit. UNM is unique. And I’ve learned every day that I’m here how unique UNM is, Danny (Gonzales, UNM football coach) has shown those things. I’m not going in hiring somebody just because they’ve been here. I’m not going to hire somebody because they played here. And I know there’s going to be those people, and I’m going to have an opportunity to sit down with many of them. The fact is, do they understand the expectations, how to communicate, the pressure that this job can be?”

• • •

“Community investment. They’re going to have to invest in this community as much as they’re going to be a coach.”

• • •

“Lastly … who are their mentors? Who are their advisers? Who are their people that they reach out to? Because it’s important in life to know that we all need people that we can rely on. … It helps more and more the ability of them being able  to have somebody to lean on.”


“We want to do this as fast as we can, but we’re not going to do it fast just because. We’re going to do it right.”

• • •

“Of course, we’d all love this to be done tomorrow, but we have a season. Right now, the focus is let’s let those kids finish up this year. … This search will go on. What I ask for our fans and ask of all you as well is be respectful of those young men that are out there. This wasn’t something they have asked for. … They want to go out there and compete and still represent the Lobos the way they have. So give them that respect. Give coach that respect.”

What can he offer financially?

“I think we will start off where we are currently (Paul Weir’s contact started at $625,000 per season and in year four grew to $775,000 annually) and assess it. … We’ve got financial challenges that we all know about. I’m not shying away from that. But we also have to figure out where the market value is, where we are and what we plan to be.

“I want to get creative when it comes to contracts. I want to get creative when it comes to opportunities. It might be something that’s a little bit more backloaded. … But from my perspective, we’re going to start off where we are today, and try to see where we can end up with whomever the candidates are.”

Search firm help?

“It’s going to be a very tight process. (There’s) not going to be many individuals involved. If I do have to go with a search firm or a consultant to assist with the process, it’s more on the administrative side and the background checks of individuals.”

• • •

“At this point, I don’t anticipate going into hiring a full search (firm).”

Is there interest?

“The fact is, in football (the search last year), there was an unbelievable amount of interest by some very high profile coaches. And I can just assure you now that basketball is there or even more because of the history and the tradition.

“… This is an unbelievable opportunity. And there’s more people that are going to be reaching out for this job than many others that will be open. So I’m excited, because, honestly, I know the kind of caliber coaches we can have here.”

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