The University of New Mexico’s Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez answered questions from the Associated Students of UNM during their April 11 full Senate meeting.
Nuñez apologized for not visiting the senators earlier and said, “Things have been a little bit crazy,” but added that he wants to work with them as much as possible continuing forward.
To solidify his point, Nuñez referenced previous conversations he had with outgoing ASUNM President Noah Brooks and said he wanted to be certain ASUNM voices were being heard.
He also said, “(I am) excited to be here more than some of the other places I’ve had to sit in front of recently.”
Before responding to questions by senators, Nuñez said he has “been challenged by the Board of Regents” to deliver a plan to address the athletic department’s accumulated deficit by May 1.
Athletics will present an updated budget to the BOR on April 17, but Nuñez cautioned that the decision on April 17 will not be final.
Following this, Sen. Madeline Kee asked Nuñez about the poor reputation that student-athletes sometimes have with the general student population and what he would like to do regarding issues of misbehavior in athletics.
Nuñez responded, saying athletics already “started a training process last week,” and poor conduct by student-athletes “will not be tolerated.”
Kee thanked the director and said she hopes to “see a better relationship between the student body and student-athletes.”
Sen. Jack Hodge asked about the nature of the financial restructuring the athletics department is currently considering.
Nuñez said he “did not want to go too in depth, because a lot is depending on the (BOR meeting) next week.”
He also said, “The ultimate question, which I’m not going to speak too much in depth about, is the regents’ request to cut sports.”
Nuñez then took a moment to highlight some of the achievements of student-athletes, specifically mentioning that the UNM ski team’s high GPA.
Sen. Rocky Cordova then asked Nuñez about head football coach Bob Davie’s suspension and how athletics would work to prevent similar conduct in the future.
Nuñez said, “In respect to Coach Davie’s suspension, he served his suspension.”
Nuñez further stated that Davie is also undergoing the training previously mentioned and that he has scheduled meetings with groups, such as Africana Studies.
“I did not want to start the suspension when they were in the middle of spring ball, but after speaking with (athletes) they did a tremendous job,” Nuñez said.
He later said staff and athletes will be trained on proper procedures and conduct.
Wrapping up the questions for Nuñez, Sen. Nadine Oglesby asked him what he believed is the root cause of the accumulated deficit and which UNM sport is the most profitable.
Nuñez said if revenue is understood in the terms of “butts in seats,” then “the one sport that generates revenue would be men’s basketball.”
Regarding the athletic deficit within the department, Nuñez said, “All I have done is ask for an opportunity to be successful here. If we can resolve (fiscal year 2018), there are several or more opportunities for (fiscal year 2020). The biggest concern for this budget for me is if this doesn’t get approved next week it hinders the University, and athletics will not be able to move forward.”
Nuñez eventually left the meeting, and Theresa Sherman, senior marketing representative for Resident Life & Student Housing, and Wayne Sullivan, director of Residence Life & Student Housing, took the stage.
The duo was present at the meeting to respond to questions from senators regarding the upcoming Fall 2018 freshmen-live-on-campus requirement.
Wayne cited studies used by Resident Life & Student Housing and said, when freshmen live on campus, they tend to have improved graduation rates, grades and retention rates when compared to those who did not live on campus.
Sherman said New Mexico State University started a similar requirement this year, and it is “not a new concept.”
Wayne also mentioned that $22 million has been invested over the last 11 years to improve residential halls, and Coronado Hall will be renovated this summer.
Students who live within 30 miles of UNM are exempt from the requirement. A list of exempt zip codes may be found UNM housing website.
ASUNM also passed the Spring 2018 Budget Bill and voted to place the $1,543 surplus into general funds, which will roll over into the next budget for later allocation.
Austin Tyra is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AustinATyra.