By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team is the only money-maker in the school’s athletic department.
But that doesn’t mean the program can’t increase its revenues and attendance – which have both slipped in recent years – and help the entire department as well.
Lobo players have been on the phone with fans, encouraging them to purchase tickets. The team is also doing a promotion with the Lobo football team as well as working with the Albuquerque Police Department in an event on Saturday (Sept. 22).
Please click here for Lobo/APD information.
Lobo coach Paul Weir has been very active in the community since becoming head coach in 2017, and he isn’t shying away from the department’s financial problems – and his desire to help where he can.
“I think as a coach, you have two options, and I don’t even know if one is right or wrong,” Weir said. “You can either just focus on coaching your team and worry about that product alone, or you can start to dabble in those other areas; with regard to marketing, attendance, revenue, expenses and whatever those things may be.
“Personally, I feel as though the marketing and attendance is part of my job, and is something I’ve tried to work on ever since I’ve been a head coach, period (one year with New Mexico State). But clearly here at UNM right now, with a lot of cuts and positions that haven’t been filled, and different things – we don’t have a lot in those areas as far as support goes. So me getting in there, I think, has helped to fill some of those voids.
“I want a full Pit like everybody wants a full Pit. And I’d rather invest myself into that and learn and grow and try to develop that, than maybe just sit on the sidelines and coach my team, and whoever shows up (in the stands), happens to show up.
“That doesn’t make me right, that doesn’t make me wrong either. It just makes me me. That’s how I’ve decided to approach it.”
Weir had a news conference on Thursday, and one of the topics was the team’s schedule, which was released on Wednesday. Three of the Lobos’ Mountain West home games begin at 9 p.m., while another is at 8 p.m.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Weir said. “My first call was to the conference office, when those times came out (the MW makes the schedule). I’d be lying if I said I was jumping for joy. I told them how I felt, I’ll continue to tell them how I feel. Our fan base and this community come first to me, so we’ll do everything we can to market, brand 9 p.m., games.
“It’s a blessing and an honor to be considered for ESPN. Last year, we weren’t considered for ESPN. We didn’t have to worry about it. Nobody either thought we were worthy or good enough to be playing late-night games on ESPN and ESPN2 — things of that nature.
“It’s a credit to our program, but the 9 p.m., games are a little too frequent for my liking.”
Please also link to comments from JaQuan Lyle and Karim Ezzeddine, who are both juniors on the team and are playing their first season for the Lobos.
Note: It doesn’t serve our purpose to recite all of Thursday’s news presser. If interested in the full Q&A, please visit Golobos.com. Enchantment Sports’ goal in to provide more than the information provided to the public…… Thanks.
Mark Smith has been in New Mexico sports journalism for four decades and is the editor-in-chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.