On July 31, head football coach Mike Locksley approached Daily Lobo sports editor Ryan Tomari at Uptown Sports Bar. Locksley disagreed with the stance Tomari took in a column where he said the UNM football program was in “shambles.”
Locksley sat down with Tomari and Tomari’s friend and discussed the column and coverage issues.
When interviewed as part of the Daily Lobo’s investigation, Tomari said he was uncomfortable with the discussion and Locksley’s demeanor because the football coach used profanity. He said the encounter has left him reluctant to interact with Locksley. Media relations representative Chris Deal has since apologized to Tomari on Locksley’s behalf.
“I don’t even ask questions at press conferences, and I stay as far away from him as I can,” Tomari said. “I just do not want to deal with him.”
Tomari took about two weeks to inform Daily Lobo leadership about the encounter. The Daily Lobo did not immediately report about the incident, because at the time we did not know about the existence of surveillance footage that would support Tomari’s account.
In response to the incident, the Athletics Department obtained video footage and volunteered to allow Albuquerque Journal reporter Greg Archuleta review the surveillance Aug. 26 in the presence of Locksley and an athletics official. When the Daily Lobo found out that Athletics had footage, it informally approached the department about viewing the tape but was denied. Instead, Athletics released a statement.
“After viewing the 22-minute video, we (Athletics) voluntarily allowed the Albuquerque Journal access to the video, and after viewing it with the Journal, they came to the identical conclusion of the athletic department that there was nothing to the dialogue, and there was no story or wrongdoing on the part of coach Locksley or the reporter.”
The Daily Lobo contacted the Journal about interviewing Archuleta but was told that the substance of his interview is present in today’s Albuquerque Journal.
Editor-in-chief Pat Lohmann also called bar owner Adam Krafft about obtaining the tape but he declined, which is well within his right as owner.
“Your employee was not confronted, and the tape shows a respectful encounter,” he said in an e-mail response. “I gave a copy to Locksley since he is always misrepresented. Write something good about the program, and fill the seats. All the negativity doesn’t help the program win.”
In an effort to exhaust its options, the Daily Lobo formally requested the tape under the Inspection of Public Records Act, but Anne Murray, the custodian of public record, said the University had no document responsive to the request.
Athletics sports information director Frank Mercogliano said UNM disposed of the video shortly after allowing Archuleta to see it.
“We do not have possession of the video,” he said. “After the video was viewed, we got rid of it because there was nothing on it. There was no reason to keep it.”
Sarah Welsh, executive director of New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, said the University didn’t break any laws by disposing of the surveillance footage but still operated in a manner unbefitting a public university.
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“They can’t just destroy records willy-nilly,” she said. “It’s bad policy to just destroy records that you know people are interested in seeing to avoid their obligation.”
Tomari said if Locksley had called him to address his concerns over the column, he would have gladly been receptive to Locksley’s criticism.
“Time and place,” he said. “I think at that point, I’m a student of the University. I’m not on the clock. I wasn’t being paid for that. I understand that I’m a member of the media, but I think had that happened with people that I work with or in a setting with fellow media members, it would have been different, but it was at a bar.”
The Daily Lobo addressed the situation now because it was asked for comment by several Albuquerque media outlets, including the Albuquerque Journal, KOBTV and 610 The Sports Animal. A statement we released should appear in those outlets today. The Daily Lobo does not seek to unnecessarily portray Athletics or the football in a negative light. Moreover, in its idealistic pursuit of journalistic truth and integrity, we felt it necessary to be transparent with our readers.
Pat Lohmann, editor-in-chief
Isaac Avilucea, managing editor