AG: UNM deliberately concealed records, messages

Former UNM athletic director Paul Krebs. File photo

ALBUQUERQUE — A revealing 32-page report released Thursday by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office outlines numerous instances in which the University of New Mexico was negligent with transparency laws and sharing information with the public through state open-records laws.

Much of the report revolves around former athletic director Paul Krebs going out of his way to keep the media at bay regarding a 2015 golfing trip to Scotland, a trip partially paid for by UNM for boosters and members of the athletic department.

It also shows internal correspondence between Krebs and others in which he orders the deletion of texts and emails.

“Since 2015, UNM has established a pattern and practice of neglecting their responsibility to allow access to public information and access to meaningful discourse and deliberation on public business,” the report states.

The Attorney General’s Office report on the UNM’s repeated violations of state transparency laws comes amid the agency’s monthslong investigation into the school’s finances.

All documents, which includes internal emails, phone records, text messages and business dealings are open to public inspection, and UNM has repeatedly failed to allow that, according to the report, which says a number of requests for documents made under the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act were heavily redacted or were simply unanswered within the mandated 15-day deadline.

The report outlines 11 recent complaints to the Attorney General’s Office regarding UNM’s noncompliance.

“UNM needs to do some soul searching,” said Attorney General’s Office spokesman David Carl in a statement. “The lack of transparency has negatively impacted its financial operations and continues to be a black eye for students and our community.”

Current UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez did not address the issue during a Thursday afternoon news conference for the men’s basketball team in The Pit. Head coach Paul Weir visited with the media regarding a number of issues, including the team’s 2018-19 schedule, the state of the current roster and fallout from the most recent board of regents meeting, which revealed the school is looking into the possibility of converting several luxury suites in The Pit into offices for the basketball team.

Weir wanted to make perfectly clear he was not asking the department or the regents for seven figures to move his program’s coaches offices from the adjacent Davalos Center into The Pit.

“At no point did I ask, or anyone that I was aware, ask for $2 million or ask for anything substantial in this project,” Weir said. “The extent that I really have been concerned with was going down the road of exploring the idea and trying to figure out who may make the decision on something like that.”

Weir said there was never a distinct move to spend money, particularly as the school and the community continues to reel from the recent decision to eliminate four sports by the end of the current academic year due to budget cuts.

“I get maybe some frustration, and I’ve kind of heard some things like everybody has,” Weir said. “Like, ‘Oh my gosh, how can they be doing this right now?’ et cetera, et cetera, and I totally empathize with that thought process. I would never intend to harm those people. Anyone that took me asking permission to look into those things in an offensive way, you have my sincerest apologies.”

LOBO NOTES

Roster updates: The process of getting 6-foot-9 power forward Carlton Bragg eligible for the upcoming season is now just a matter of when, not if, he’ll be able to take the court. The former Kansas low-post man is waiting to hear about an NCAA waiver that would make him eligible by the season opener in early November or, more than likely, as soon as the fall semester officially ends Dec. 16.

“He had a great summer in the classroom; he’s done all the things all the court that I’ve asked him to do,” Weir said.

Hobbs-bound: Weir said the team’s schedule is basically set. For now, the Lobos have 28 dates locked and loaded, with the possibility of two or three more games added within the next few days.

One game will be in Hobbs, probably in November. Weir said he’d prefer to play it at Tasker Arena on the campus of Hobbs High School, but he said other possible venues include the Lea County Event Center and New Mexico Junior College.

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