All Adam Watson wanted for Christmas was his transfer release from the Lobo football team.
Until Sunday, Watson’s wish was in jeopardy of not being granted.
The former UNM freshman wide receiver, who redshirted this year, was earlier reported to be transferring to play football at another school.
The school Watson had his heart set on, Southern Methodist University, is conveniently located about two hours from his hometown, said Watson’s mother, Yvette Frazier.
She said she tried to explain that to Locksley in a phone conversation on Friday, but had no success, even though she said Locksley had previously agreed to release Watson to SMU.
“He was just brushing me off and just real rude,” she said. “First of all, Adam is homesick, which is understandable for a freshman. He’s just not happy there. He doesn’t want to be up under Locks.”
When he was contacted by the Daily Lobo on Sunday, Locksley had a change of heart.
“I will release him to wherever he wants to go,” Locksley said. “I don’t want to stop the kid from going home at all. Right now, I don’t even want to deal with it. He can go play with New Mexico State if he wants to.”
Under NCAA bylaws, Locksley isn’t required to grant players permission to attend a school he doesn’t sign off on, but usually coaches don’t hold players to commitments should they not want to remain with a program.
As of Sunday, Locksley said he hadn’t called Frazier to inform her of his decision to grant Watson his release to SMU.
“I was told she didn’t want to talk to me about it anymore,” he said, before adding that someone from Athletics will likely call her on Monday to relay the news.
In a meeting on Nov. 16, Watson alerted Locksley of his plans to transfer at the conclusion of the season.
Locksley said he requested a list of schools to which Watson wanted to transfer, which Watson gave him in a meeting on Nov. 29, Locksley said.
Among the schools listed were SMU, Lamar, Texas Southern University, Prairie View and Baylor.
Watson said he also put University of Houston down as a possibility — a school Locksley said was not included in the list he received.
Previously, Frazier said Locksley had verbally agreed to allow Watson to attend SMU, but Locksley soon reneged on his promise because he was in negotiations to add that opponent to the Lobos’ future schedule.
“My biggest thing is I feel Coach Locks isn’t being honest,” Frazier said. “I don’t think he was being fair, and I just don’t think he’s a good leader for my child.”
Locksley countered, saying that he made it explicitly clear to both Watson and his mother that wasn’t the case.
“I didn’t double back on my promise,” Locksley said. “He was aware, his mom was aware, from Day One if it was a school that we play, then he wouldn’t be released to them or a school that we intend to play.”
Explaining his reservations, Locksley said that he was apprehensive to release Watson to SMU for the reasons Frazier detailed, and that it’s not uncommon for coaches to refuse to release former players to prospective opponents.
“That’s the practice,” he said. “You don’t send out blanket releases. If it’s a team we’re going to play or we have intentions to play, typically I’m a little nervous about releasing him.”
Watson said that he wants to be closer to home, but the fallout between Locksley and former wide receivers coach J.B. Gerald, whom Locksley is accused of punching and choking during an altercation on Sept. 20, had an impact on Watson’s decision to leave.
“It really is a big factor with me and J.B. — with him leaving the team,” Watson said. “It hit me hard. It’s been hard for me trying to deal with it. No disrespect to coach (Aaron) Moorehead — he’s a great coach, but J.B. was like a father to me.”
After discussing the matter with Athletics Director Paul Krebs in a meeting on Friday — the same day Frazier said she called Krebs — Locksley said he considers the matter resolved.