Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie insisted Tuesday that he was never certain his sport would be safe from the ax wielded last week by the Board of Regents.
During a Mountain West Conference football media days session in Las Vegas, Nev., Davie said, "we're fortunate that football wasn't dropped," in an interview with Brandon Foster of the Casper Star-Tribune.
The board voted unanimously last Thursday to cut men's soccer, men's and women's skiing and women's beach volleyball beginning in 2019-20. Davie said in the interview that he was "never told until the announcement" of football's status.
"We went how many months there where there was no word on what was going to be dropped? Nobody told me we're not dropping football. Our program has gone through a summer of, 'Are we going to be playing football?' It's unique. ... It's unique."
Football spent $8.3 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30 and has been a big reason the athletic department overall is finishing in the red financially for the ninth year in the past 11. At last week's board meeting, regent Suzanne Quillen asked, "Why aren't we talking about football?" as she referred to it as "the white elephant in the room."
First-year athletic director Eddie Nuñez cited conference affiliation, along with Title IX concerns and budgetary constraints, as factors in deciding what sports could be dropped.
Football is one of four sports the Mountain West Conference requires of its member schools. The others are men's and women's basketball and indoor volleyball.
Nuñez and President Garnett Stokes have recommended the program be reduced from 116 to 113 players (85 on scholarship) after July 1, 2019, when the cuts of the four above-mentioned programs take place. Nuñez also said there are talks to reduce some program expenses, and that the team will no longer stay in a local hotel the night before home games, which has cost the program between $20,353 and $24,996 in the 2015 through 2016 seasons.
Davie's team, which finished in last place in the Mountain West Conference's Mountain Division last year, has been picked to finish last again this year by media covering the league.
The Lobos went 3-9 last season, 1-7 in the division, and are coming off a tumultuous offseason that included a 30-day suspension for Davie after in-house investigations into his misconduct. There were allegations he engaged in racist comments, among other concerns.
Boise State, last season's league champion, is picked to finish first in the Mountain Division by the media, followed by Wyoming, Colorado State, Utah State and Air Force.
UNM was picked to finish last by 21 of the 22 poll voters, with one putting the Lobos at fifth.
Fresno State was picked to finish first in the West Division, followed by San Diego State, UNLV, Nevada, Hawaii and San Jose State. Aaron Jenkins, a 6-foot-2, 307-pound senior offensive lineman, was the lone Lobo to make the Preseason All-Mountain West Conference team. There were no Lobos on defense.
Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien and Wyoming safety Andrew Wingard have been picked as the Preseason Players of the Year.
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