Why are some acting like UNM is cutting out their hearts, not just Lobo sports?

By Lee Roy Lucero

Enchantment Sports Staff Writer

COMMENTARY

In 1999, University of New Mexico’s newly hired Athletic Director Rudy Davalos, after a yearlong study, made the tough decision to cut three non-revenue sports: men’s swimming, wrestling and the very popular men’s gymnastic program.

There wasn’t a long, drawn-out process, there weren’t big meetings, there wasn’t much whining, crying and gnashing of teeth. It was a simple decision; UNM was juggling too many sports at the time and due to budget restraints and losses, the three sports had to go.

soccer
Has the controversy over keeping UNM men’s soccer gone too far? (Photo courtesy golobos.com)

UNM wasn’t the only school making those decisions at the time. The Columbia Dispatch reported that in 1969 there were 234 NCAA schools with men’s gymnastics, in 1999 that number dropped to 28, and in 2011 there were 17. This wasn’t the first or last time UNM would cut sports, and some of those cut had been brought back.

Wrestling, baseball, women’s swimming and women’s basketball were all dropped in 1987, and women’s gymnastics was cut in 1992.

Why? Money! These sports are non-revenue generating sports. Sad to say, but with very little funding and no attendance, they are a drain on the overall athletic budget. And none is part of a television package.

Vintage Lobo

Flash forward to this past April.

New President Garnett Stokes and new Athletic Director Eddie Nunez faced the same issue as Davalos had in 1993. UNM has major budget issues and is juggling too many sports.

Nunez announced a new round of sports cuts was coming.

When Lobo fans went through this before, life went on. New Mexicans understand we aren’t part of a Power 5 community (a school from one of the five major college conferences), and there is a large sucking sound coming from these non-revenue-generating sports, and these sports still have no television contracts.

With the studies done, in July Nunez announced the school would cut men’s soccer, skiing and beach vollevball. The university will also phase out the women’s diving program, while reducing spots in men’s track and field. The proposed cuts were given to the UNM Board of Regents, who after a public meeting, voted 6-0 to approve the much-needed sports cuts. The sports would be eliminated starting the 2019-20 school year.

Story over, right?

Wrong! There are major differences from 1999 and 2018: Social media and this millennial idea that government should be out harvesting large sums of money to cover these money-sucking sports. The alleged fans who rarely, if ever, attended or financially supported these non-revenue sports, took to social media and ripped on Stokes and Nunez. Then grandstanding Attorney General Hector Balderas decided to poke his nose into this decision. He held a press conference, announcing Thursday that his office will take the University of New Mexico to court unless its board of regents reconsiders the decision to eliminate the four sports.

I’ll help Balderas out to understand this decision, and let’s use Davalos’ 1993 reasoning: UNM doesn’t have enough money in the budget, these sports bring no revenue in, and UNM is carrying too many sports.

Meanwhile Democrat state legislators held their own press conference saying, “UNM never asked us for money.”

This presser had me scrambling to get my resume updated to apply for a lobbyist position with UNM. Later that day, I discovered that UNM did employ lobbyists to head to Santa Fe to seek cash for UNM.

If that’s the case, some politicos appear to be toying with our taxes to help UNM sports – and, likely, themselves.

To heck with education, poverty and high crime issues in New Mexico. We need a ski team! We need beach volleyball! We need men’s soccer!

So what if few New Mexicans get scholarships with those programs and the sports bleed money from the school.

Thus, in a couple of weeks the dog-and-pony show starts again. The Board of Regents are forced to meet, UNM soccer coach Jeremy Fishbein will be there and so will more “fans” – some of whom have never attended a soccer game (with no money to donate, of course) – screaming, whining and demanding UNM keeps the sliced sports – again, money-sucking, non-revenue sports that UNM continues to waste resources upon.

Then the vote will come back 6-0 – or 7-0 if the missing regent shows up.

Thanks Hector. Now how about dealing with all the real problems that plague this state?


If you have information for Enchantment Sports, email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com or to contact Lee Roy directly, email LeeRoy.EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com

6 comments

  1. How would you feel if football was cut instead of soccer?! Everyone is going to complain about the sport they like the most. The UNM leaders took the easy way out & didn’t try to rectify the situation. How about cut 10-20 scholarships from football to pay for soccer? They had months to come to this decision & it showed no signs of doing the hard work of coming up with real solutions. How about taking $500K from the president’s $600K salary. Over paid administration is ruining another state government entity!! That’s why there was so much out cry!!!

    1. So Sam, I get it that some like football and some like Soccer. but respectfully as i can i’ll say to you that there were 700-1,200 people that showed up to soccer last season. Football’s biggest crowd last season was over 29,000 and that is in a down year.

      You can hate on football all you’d like but its far more popular than soccer. As for the out cry, maybe next time show your support in the stands during games when it matters and not on the internet after its too late. When no one shows up to soccer for years and then acts like its the biggest thing going in the state after it gets cut… that doesn’t inspire me, it depresses me. where were all you huge Soccer fans the last 10 years?

      1. I don’t hate on football. I have had season tickets for years. I’m just saying the UNM leaders didn’t try to remedy the situation to the satisfaction of almost everyone, because in my opinion the UNM president doesn’t care about sports, and doesn’t see the benefit of having sports to benefit the community. Now the non-seniors have to find another school to go play if they want to continue, and we lose probably the best soccer coach in the country that did alot of community outreach. I could go on, but basically the UNM & Albuquerque community is losing a positive with the elimination of these sports, and continue to lose our quality of life.

  2. For what it’s worth i would like to have seen what would have happened if we went a few years with some responsible leadership. had we gone 4 years without million dollar coaching buyouts or actually collecting on the suites or not having a basketball operations guy go wild at the casino putting over 50 grand on his university P-card or not overpaying coaches because of accounting errors. all of these things were well documented and actually happened. but having said all of that there wasn’t much interest in the community until they found out it was getting cut. you are right about how valuable the program was but Albuquerque took it for granted while they had it and didn’t know what they had until it was too late.

    UNM has plenty of blame in this but so does the community who did not support the program when it mattered.

  3. The University will engage students, faculty, and staff in its comprehensive educational, research, and service programs.

    UNM will provide students the values, habits of mind, knowledge, and skills that they need to be enlightened citizens, to contribute to the state and national economies, and to lead satisfying lives.
    Faculty, staff, and students create, apply, and disseminate new knowledge and creative works; they provide services that enhance New Mexicans’ quality of life and promote economic development; and they advance our understanding of the world, its peoples, and cultures.
    Building on its educational, research, and creative resources, the University provides services directly to the City and State, including health care, social services, policy studies, commercialization of inventions, and cultural events.

    Clearly, UNM’s regent, administration, AD Nunez and President Stokes have “pencil whipped” over UNM’s Mission statement when they signed on to represent UNM.
    Either, they adhere to the mission statement or revise is it to reflect their decision of not providing the selected students with the engagement and values they proclaim to uphold.
    After all, education is a worth while endeavor that is highly valued, which the University has no problems asking students, parents and others to go in debt for, and we gladly carry that burden. The University should do the same for our student, coaches, staff and others that it asks from us, carry your burden? The benefits are greater than the cost.

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