ALBUQUERQUE — Nearly lost in the glare of the state Attorney General’s Office decision to serve a warrant on the Lobo Club was the University of New Mexico’s dismissal of one of the top administrators in the athletic department.
UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez on Wednesday confirmed the dismissal of Brad Hutchins as the director of external operations. He essentially was No. 3 on the athletic department’s hierarchy behind Nuñez and deputy athletic director Janice Ruggiero.
In what was described as an unrelated — though curiously timed — move, Nuñez said the attorney general’s raid and the decision to fire Hutchins on Tuesday were mutually exclusive.
“Brad was just about a change in the administration for me,” Nuñez said.
Hutchins took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce his departure. He thanked the university and the community, as well as the athletic staff at UNM.
“This business is about people and your willingness to serve the people you represent,” he wrote. “Thank you for allowing me to serve you and thank you for the tremendous memories.”
Hutchins had a base salary of $175,000. UNM will issue a buyout agreement of $175,000 to get him out the door. He is, for the time being, still listed on the staff directory for the athletic department.
Hutchins spent 14 years at UNM and was one of the primary figures in securing a naming rights deal that changed The Pit into WisePies Arena in 2014 and, later, the university’s baseball facility into Santa Ana Star Field.
Although UNM athletics’ financial problems are well-known, Nunez said he would seek a successor for Hutchins.
“In coming days and weeks I will be announcing other changes at UNM,” Nuñez said. “We will be replacing Brad, and we will be discussing additional guidelines and policies consistent with building the kind of athletic department we believe is expected.”
Hutchins’ exit is the latest move by Nuñez to put a stamp on the personnel he has around him. One of his first major decisions was to bring in Rob Robinson as the department’s chief financial officer.
“When I came to UNM a year ago, I knew we had some challenges ahead,” Nuñez said in a statement, adding, “In this first year the only real constant has been change. We’ve had to change the way we budget. We’ve had to change the way we establish priorities. We’ve had to change the way we approach college athletics in a 21st century that is demanding more cultural and economic accountability.”
Hutchins oversaw UNM’s decision to provide alcohol sales at football and basketball games, and worked on the athletic department’s multimillion dollar agreement for broadcast and marketing rights with Learfield Sports.