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Lobo Hoops Award Clarified

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Kory Alford had the grades for the Mountain West all-conference academic honors for which he was recognized at the team banquet Tuesday – but not the playing time.

Coach Steve Alford presented academic awards to son Kory and starting freshman guard Hugh Greenwood. The school’s sports information department sent out a statement listing them along with other awards presented at the banquet, and then posted them on the school’s athletics website.

The Journal published the award winners in a story Wednesday.

But Kory Alford, a freshman and La Cueva High School graduate, redshirted this past season, meaning he sat out every game in exchange for retaining the year of eligibility.

Mountain West officials say redshirts aren’t eligible to be named Academic All-Conference.

The university this week amended the name of the award to the Scholar-Athlete Award, with criteria set by Steve Alford.

The Mountain West Academic All-Conference team will be announced later this spring. According to Kim Melcher, director of communications of the Mountain West, the criteria for eligibility are:

A. Having participated significantly in at least 50 percent of their team’s contests and;

B. Having earned a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 at the certifying institution.

Anyone who satisfies those two criteria is named all-conference. The only discretionary factor is how the coach defines “significant” participation.

Melcher confirmed that a redshirt cannot be named to the league’s academic all-conference team.

“According to the criteria, if they don’t play they don’t qualify,” Melcher said.

UNM sports information director Frank Mercogliano said Thursday the award presented to both players was not the official Mountain West award, and that its criteria were created by coach Alford.

The Journal asked what those criteria are and how to explain the difference.

Mercogliano said he did not know.

About two hours later, Steve Alford sent a cellphone text message to the Journal saying: “Don’t expect another answer from me ever.”

Shortly thereafter, the school’s website changed the wording of the award to Lobo Scholar-Athlete Award.

The school then sent out a news release that read: “A member of our academic staff inadvertently gave us the incorrect name. It was the Lobo Scholar-Athlete award that Hugh and Kory should have been recognized for.”

Greenwood, who was the Lobos’ starting point guard most of the past season, is expected to be named Academic All-Conference.

Although the league has yet to release the list of honorees, it is customary to let the schools announce first in an event such as a team banquet.

Sophomore Alex Kirk, who also sat out the season as a redshirt after having back surgery last year, also was recognized for his academic achievements Tuesday with the Fidelity Investments All-Academic team award.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal