The University of New Mexico men’s soccer program is being "very seriously" looked at as a sport to cut, according to an email sent out this afternoon by head coach Jeremy Fishbein.
In a meeting Monday morning, athletic director Eddie Nuñez told Fishbein that men’s soccer was one of the sports being seriously considered to be discontinued in order to save money for a department that has failed to balance its budget in eight of the last 10 years.
The department is facing intense scrutiny from the UNM Board of Regents, who are scheduled to vote on the budget proposal and debt elimination plan put forth by Nuñez and President Garnett Stokes at last week’s Finance and Facilities Committee meeting. The budget was advanced to the full meeting without a recommendation from Regent President Robert Doughty due to a deadline placed on UNM to come up with some answers about how to solve the deficit by the state Higher Education Department.
“No sports should be cut at UNM," Fishbein said in his email. "With proper oversight and support, we can and should be great at everything we do. Give our new athletic director and president time to develop a plan without losing great young people who are future leaders locally, nationally and globally.”
Fishbein says that numerous former Lobos will be in attendance at tomorrow’s Board of Regents meeting and will speak during the open comments section at the meeting. The meeting begins tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
The men’s soccer team went 8-6-4 last year. The team currently plays in Conference-USA, a conference made up primarily of teams located in the eastern part of the country, as shown on the interactive map created by Madison Spratto below.
At this time, the Mountain West does not sponsor men’s soccer as a sport, so the Lobos had to find another conference to play in. Fishbein has said previously C-USA was selected because of the quality of play. The Lobos joined C-USA for the 2013 season.
“If you could get those games (against good opponents) in the west coast, you’d say, ‘Hey we’d love to play in a west coast conference, but we didn’t have that option,'” Fishbein said during a press conference last September.
According to records obtained by the Albuquerque Journal, Fishbein has a annual salary of $112,969.
President Stokes has said previously that sports will definitely be cut as the athletic department works to balance the budget. For the moment University of New Mexico athletics is comprised of 22 school-sponsored sports — second to Air Force.
Cameron Goeldner is a sports beat reporter and photographer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s soccer, softball and the Albuquerque Isotopes, but also contributes content for baseball, basketball, football and track and field. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @goeldfinger.