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Weir departure agreement says sides must play nice

Paul Weir, seen here during a timeout against San Diego State on Jan. 29, 2020, will coach the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team in its final regular-season game on Wednesday and in next week’s MWC Tournament. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Paul Weir hasn’t yet publicly spoken about Friday’s news of his time as Lobo men’s basketball coach coming to an end after four seasons.

At least not more than the positive, prepared statement included in the school’s late Friday night announcement of what was described as a mutual parting of ways for a coach who will coach the team in its final regular season game Wednesday at Colorado State and in next week’s Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.

When he does talk, it’s a safe bet there won’t be any burn-it-all-down, if-I’m-going-down-I’m-taking-everyone-with-me sort of parting shots from the 41-year-old Weir, not that he’s ever shown that to be in his nature.

But just to be safe, the settlement agreement the Journal reviewed on Monday, not unlike that of the recent firing of UNM Lobo football coach Bob Davie, does make clear that both sides better be nice to one another moving forward with a non-disparagement clause. It was written into the agreement signed by Weir and UNM President Garnett Stokes.

“In perpetuity, Mr. Weir will not publicly defame UNM, its past or present officers, employees, agents, directors, Regents, or any other persons acting on behalf of UNM regarding any aspect of his employment at UNM,” the deal states.

If that happens, a breach of contract could be pursued by UNM for a buyout that includes paying Weir $490,000 over the next two years — $245,000 on Jan. 14, 2022 and $245,000 on Jan. 15, 2023. It also includes making the next two $50,000 payments ($100,000 in total UNM is on the hook for) to New Mexico State University for the $275,000 Weir still owes the Aggies over a seven-year repayment agreement stemming from when he bolted Las Cruces in 2017 to take the Lobos job.

The deal goes both ways.

UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez over the weekend talked with media about the decision and praised Weir for his dedication for trying to get the program to a high level and wished him and his family all the best moving forward.

Don’t expect any public criticism to come from him or any UNM employee about the Weir era as the settlement agreement states:

“Those employees under the direct control and supervision of the UNM president, including the UNM Director of Athletics and those employees directly reporting to the Director of Athletics, will not publicly defame Mr. Weir, his agents, attorneys, family or any other persons acting on behalf of Mr. Weir, regarding any aspect of Mr. Weir’s employment at UNM.”

Weir was making $775,000 this season — one that contractually runs through March 31. His last day on salary for this contract year, per the agreement, will be March 15. His contract had called for his to be paid a $700,000 buyout ($350,000 for each contract year remaining).

Along with the $590,000 UNM agreed to pay to part ways with Weir — $490,000 to him and $100,000 on his behalf to NMSU — the settlement reached makes clear that even if Weir goes on to be an assistant coach anytime in the next two years (before Jan. 15, 2023), the salary he earns there will not have any affect on what UNM owes him.

“This amount shall not be subject to mitigation,” the settlement states — which is unlike many college athletic buyouts that lead to buyout money owed to a fired coach being reduced if that coach moves on to get another job in the industry.

IT’S GAME TIME: Though UNM’s GoLobos website on Monday still had “TBA” listed on its men’s basketball schedule page for Wednesday’s make-up game at Colorado State, and the league never made a formal game time announcement, the Rams’ athletics site on Monday showed a 6 p.m. start time for the game.

FORFEITS FOR THE WIN: The two games UNM backed out of playing against San Diego State may not officially count as forfeits in the eyes of the NCAA. But they’re a huge piece of the Mountain West puzzle this week.

The league determined those two games will be viewed as forfeits “only” if needed to help crown a regular-season champion, or for seeding purposes.

If SDSU beats UNLV this week, the Aztecs finish the regular season 14-3. If CSU wins out this week, it will finish 15-3.

The two UNM forfeits for the Aztecs would then bump SDSU to 16-3 “only” for determining the league champion and No. 1 seed for SDSU, keeping CSU from its first ever Mountain West championship.

That’s a lot on the line for two games that weren’t played, though it should be noted that computer predictors indicate SDSU would have been favored by nearly 20 points in both games played against the Lobos, had they played.

Yes, that’s why they play the games, but the reality is the outcome would have been the same, anyway.

POLL POSITION: The only Mountain West team to receive votes in this week’s new Associated Press Top 25 poll was SDSU, ranked No. 19 and appearing on 62 of 64 voter ballots. The Aztecs had a high vote of No. 13 in the country by two voters.

Monday’s updated NET rankings, which the NCAA selection committee relies on heavily for seeding the NCAA Tournament and picking at large teams, had four MWC teams represented in the top 50 in the country:

■ No. 18: San Diego State

■ No. 35: Boise State

■ No. 43: Colorado State

■ No. 49 Utah State

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