It was golf and fundraising.
That was the purpose of a June 2015 golf excursion to Scotland that the University of New Mexico says cost the athletics department $39,000, according to an email UNM sent to Lobo Club Board of Directors on Friday.
The email was sent by UNM athletic director Paul Krebs and senior associate athletic director/Lobo Club executive director Kole McKamey.
“We want to make you aware of a potential media story that would be reported by Larry Barker with KRQE that may emerge this upcoming week regarding the UNM Athletics Department and the Lobo Club,” is how the letter opened.
KRQE-TV has recently been airing commercial advertisements about Barker’s upcoming investigative report, which they say will air Tuesday night.
UNM’s email appears to be a preemptive defense.
The letter from UNM said that a June 19-25, 2015 trip to Scotland — dubbed on travel invoices from Anthony Travel Inc., obtained through a public records request from the Journal as “University of New Mexico Scotland Golf Tour 2015” — included several athletic department employees such as Krebs, McKamey and former men’s basketball coach Craig Neal, and their families.
According to the letter, the $39,000 paid for Krebs’, Neal’s and part of McKamey’s trip, as well as a penalty for not having the contractually agreed upon 24 golfers on the trip.
“At that time, there was a lot of interest in the basketball program,” Krebs said in an interview with the Journal on Sunday, adding he took a “calculated risk” that such a fund-raising trip would benefit the program.
How that would happen, Friday’s email states, was by trying to counteract declining public subsidies coming into the department by securing more private donations.
“The main purpose of the trip was for UNM athletics supporters to spend time with Paul Krebs and Craig Neal in a special setting and cultivate and steward some of our most generous donors and prospects,” the letter from Friday stated.
Krebs said Sunday that “hindsight is 20/20” and he might not do the trip again, but is confident more money was secured for UNM as a direct result of that trip than spent, though he would not point to any specific examples.
“The relationships were strengthened, and I do believe we brought in new money as a result of that trip,” Krebs said. “… I would argue there was a return on the investment on this trip.”
UNM insists all family members of employees and all other members of the travel party, which included boosters and donors Krebs declined to identify on Sunday, paid their way for the trip. That included 23 people, including 16 who took part in the golf part of the travel package. That travel package, secured through Anthony Travel, featured rounds of golf at five courses and six nights stay at the Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews and at the Trump Turnberry resort.
Included in a partial response to an Inspection of Public Records Act request by the Journal (the rest of the response, including answers on a list of the travel party, is due back this week) were copies of personal credit card statements obtained by the Journal from Krebs ($31,286) and Neal ($6,399) indicating they paid for their family members’ portions of the travel package.
The contract reviewed by the Journal indicated airfare was not a part of the travel package that included lodging, meals, golf and some other events on the trip. It is unclear if air travel costs will be included in the rest of the Journal’s records request when fulfilled.
The $39,000 UNM says it spent on the trip went on the budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which ended on June 30 of that year. It was actually one of only two athletic department budgets in the past nine years that did not finish in a deficit.
Friday’s letter stated, “There were no state appropriations used to cover these specific expenses.” Krebs reiterated that stance Sunday to the Journal.
That said, where subsidies like student fees ($3.9 million in 2015-16) and state general fund subsidies ($2.8 million in 2015-16) are spent isn’t specifically detailed in the operating budget reviewed by the Journal through annual records requests.