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Letter: Athletics budget issues would be unacceptable for anyone else


Math is not everyone’s strong point. Many of us admittedly try not to bother with it. But when you are getting ripped off, it pays to start asking questions about numbers.

Students here at UNM have been suffering. Tuition costs are rising, and lottery scholarships are falling. Each and every one of us have been sacrificing whether we know it not.

Consider for a moment on how you sacrifice. Are you overloading a course schedule to try to somehow graduate? Do you miss class because you must work to pay for tuition and student fees? Has anyone ever reached out to help and advise you on just what the hell the long-term plan is?

Students, faculty and staff are all asked to do more with less.

This pertains to us all — except one certain delusional department that seems to think that the hard math of budgeting does not apply to them.

I am talking about the Athletics Department, the department that has the most paid administrators of any other on main campus.

This department was headed by director Paul Krebs (salary $319,262) until he “resigned” after committing fraud. Paul used UNM money to fund a personal golfing trip to Scotland. This trip ended up costing New Mexico taxpayers even more, because Paul failed to get enough people to lock in for the discount group travel rate.

Pathetic Paul, so much money to embezzle but too few friends to even embezzle with.

Of course the Athletics Department claims, “We bring in the most money!”

But this is a lie of omission. The department wastes more money than it brings in. According to the ABQ Journal, since 2007 the Athletics Department’s expenses have exceed their revenue every year except two. As of 2016, the department has a $1,525,257 deficit that the University must cover.

And at the start of every year, including this year, the projected ticket revenue is easily a million dollars off any realistic estimate of ticket sales. There are no sober, cost saving measures the Athletics Department uses to remedy this problem. In fact the department has actually been giving away box tickets to the Pit for free. KRQE reports that there is at least $432,000 in uncollected revenue from under-the-table give-aways of seats at the Pit. Despite being broke, they still help themselves to freebies at the University’s expense.

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All these negatives, of course, have no reflection on the Lobo student-athletes, some of which I’ve personally taught. Being a former athlete myself, I understand the love of sports and competition. There is no replacing the trust and close bonds that can only be formed by playing for a team. But student-athletes, you must also realize how quickly you will be dropped from the Athletics Department once you are no longer useful. Do you think you will still have your scholarship if you sustain a serious injury?

Even winning championships does not guarantee security — for instance Paul Krebs cut the championship UNM Ski Team simply to take money for the old basketball coach to go away and for a new one to come along. The Ski Club was reinstated, but the small print dictates they must raise $100,000 themselves each year. On top of their studies and their sport they must also now fundraise.

So, then, what exactly does the Athletics Department do for the student athletes?

The repeated mantra under Paul Krebs’ tenure is that student athletes’ GPA is the highest it’s ever been. This press release nugget keeps getting repeated as an accomplishment of the Athletics Department.

How ridiculous is this claim? Is the Athletics Department teaching and grading the students? Have the coaches and administers been holding study sections? If the alleged support and advisement the Athletics Department gives to student athletes is so great for GPA and academic achievement, why can we not give this level of support to each and every student? Instead of financing sports graft, how about we invest in support and advisement for all our students?

Corruption and embezzlement is endemic to New Mexico, but quite frankly, it is embarrassing to hear about these stories when I know of so many students, faculty and staff that are financially struggling.

The investigative reporting of KRQE, the Albuquerque Journal and the ongoing audit by Tim Keller have brought to light the myriad ways in which corruption impacts us all directly.

The rest is up to us, the University body, to hold accountable those that take advantage of our community. Spread the news and keep asking the mathematical questions about where the money is being wasted.

Daniel Barto


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