STEVENS: Honorable Lobos Face Judgments of Public Opinion
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/04/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 4, 2009

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Honorable men, Lobos of integrity, are being judged: New Mexico President David Schmidly and Paul Krebs, Vice President of Lobo athletics. Hey, it comes with the position.

The courtroom of public opinion is filled with facts, figures, innuendos, mistakes, and surely is influenced by the edgy climate that surrounds controversy and a winless football team.

The media has circled. They look for blood and hone in on any tiny wound. Hey, that's their job, too. No hard feelings here from someone who has circled many a wound.

The final ruling here will be effected by the facts and surely the judgments will vary. People see things as they are. People see things as they want to see things. Some people will look at the body of work. Some people will hone in on the wound.

Ultimately, the final decision by most Lobo fans will be strongly weighed by whether or not they buy into the core of two words used in the first sentence of this column: honorable, integrity. We'll get back to that. First lets dig into some wounds.

There are two key questions to be answered concerning the issues surrounding Lobo football coach Mike Locksley and the punishment handed down by UNM for his inappropriate contact with an assistant coach.

1. Was UNM policy and procedure properly enforced?

2. Was the punishment fair and equitable in regards to that policy?

The end results are what matters most here. Krebs admits he did not have full understanding of HR procedure when he first dived into this mess. He accepts responsibility for that error. He then made the necessary adjustments and placed the research into the hands of UNM's Human Resources (HR) department.

This is the UNM department that has to review and investigate these types of issues. Any initial research by the athletic department was incidental; not official. That's UNM policy, too.

HR approached the matter with the rights of two UNM employees in mind: Locksley and assistant coach J.B. Gerald. Helen Gonzales' department researched the contact and deemed that they could not confirm a punch had been thrown. She could not confirm a choke.

The only conclusive results were inappropriate conduct and contact. Gonzales also is a woman of high integrity and honesty. If she weren't, she wouldn't hold that position. It's fair to assume she did her job correctly.

Krebs listened to Gonzales and applied a punishment that was in accord with UNM policy and precedent. Locksley, a first-year coach, was suspended from his program for 10 days and fined $29,000. That's not a slap on the wrist.

Another issue that has reared its head is whether or not UNM tried to withhold information from the media. In some ways, this claim is shortsighted for one obvious reason: UNM knows it can't withhold information. Its attorneys won't allow it. The media got their data, but this release of information could have been handled better. Schmidly accepted accountability for this delay.

So, what is the legendary "bottom line" here. For sure, it's a compound sentence with a few twists and a few slips.

Did UNM stumble a bit with procedure? Heck, yes. Guilty as charged. Was it a deliberate attempt to distort an investigation? No way. Again, the end result came through proper enforcement of HR procedure and fair application of punishment.

That brings us back to honor and integrity. Do you have faith in the core values, the professionalism, the history, of Schmidly and Krebs?

Schmidly has dedicated his life to education. He was president at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. He has been a high-level administrator at Texas A&M. He is a researcher, an author and has been inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame for Science, Mathematics and Technology.

I'm not sure I can forgive him those Texan roots, but I don't think I'm going to find him on any FBI's Most Wanted List. Has he made mistakes in the UNM president's office? Probably. Does he make all the academia types on campus happy? He has about as much chance of doing this as President Obama has of making all Americans happy.

Krebs' resume is a similar list of achievement. If I thought I could worm a raise out of Krebs, I would throw that list down. Basically, he ran clean departments in his past, and that's what he is doing at UNM. He made good hires in his past, and that's what's he's trying to do here. He raised a lot of money in his past to make his athletic departments better, and that's what he's doing here.

You judge Krebs by The Pit renovations, by the new academic center, by Steve Alford, by Ray Birmingham, by Joe Franklin, by Jeff Nelson, by Jill Trujillo, by Fredrik Landstedt, by Ty Singleton, and, yes, by Mike Locksley. You even judge Krebs by the coaches he didn't hire. It's his department, his responsibility, his body of work.

The media, the public, the Lobo lovers, the Lobo haters, will be keeping tabs. They'll look for ripples in the Lobo waters. They'll circle the occasional wound. They'll look for fault, look for times they can point fingers. Maybe they'll also notice the growth and the good.

The attitude from Krebs has to be along the line of, "Bring it on." It's not a cliché line of challenge. It's just a line of realism from a qualified leader with a time-tested background of honor and integrity, who is willing to put those qualities on the line along with his decisions, his hires, his successes and even his stumbles.

He is willing to be judged. So, let the judging continue.

That's part of the job, too.

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous GoLobo.com articles can be found on The Richard Stevens Corner.