New assistant coach Snow says ‘every move is a risk’

Craig Snow

ALBUQUERQUE — Behold, it’s Dwight K. Schrute.

In one fell swoop, Craig Snow voluntarily went from the boss’s job to the role of assistant — uh, special assistant, that is — to the man in charge.

Snow was officially introduced Monday as the special assistant to the head coach of the University of New Mexico men’s basketball program, an invented position created by Lobos coach Paul Weir to get Snow on his staff.

It comes just 10 weeks after Snow, a onetime Lobos assistant under former coaches Steve Alford and Craig Neal, stepped aside as the head coach at New Mexico Highlands to take over as that school’s full-time athletic director.

“Kind of confusing, I guess,” Snow said.

On Monday, he joked about the job description that might remind people of an episode of The Office. When asked what, exactly, a special assistant’s role was, Snow said it ranged from getting Weir through the day-to-day operations behind the scenes to lending a hand with coaching, scouting and leading workouts.

“I really don’t care as much about the responsibilities as much as I do the results of us winning, so it’s a variety of things,” Snow said.

It was only last month that Snow worked as a guest speaker at Weir’s kids skills camp in Santa Fe. He spoke then about building a consistent winner at Highlands and stabilizing an athletic department that consistently struggled to keep up with its peers in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

On Monday, he was asked if he and Weir had already worked out a deal to get Snow onto the UNM staff by time the camp at Santa Fe High rolled around. He said nothing had been finalized, although preliminary discussions had taken place. It wasn’t until Weir hired Dan McHale as his top assistant less than two weeks later that the move to get Snow to UNM was made.

“It was more, like, what I feel is best for career projection and for the family,” Snow said. “It was difficult. I haven’t had a move in my entire career where it didn’t take a lot of soul searching.”

For the time being, Snow will live in Albuquerque while the rest of his family will remain in Las Vegas, N.M., tying up loose ends. His wife, Jessica Snow, is a professor at NMHU. The couple has two young children, who will make the full-time move to Albuquerque by August, he said.

On game days, Snow will sit on the bench with the other assistants, but it’s still unclear what he’ll be doing. Weir’s right-hand man will be McHale with Brandon Mason (Snow’s one-time assistant at Highlands) and Jerome Robinson as other full-time assistants.

Weir also promoted Ralph Davis to be his director of operations, leaving a vacancy for the video coordinator’s spot — a job Snow held for one season during his previous three-year stay at UNM.

Snow admits it can be seen as a bit of a risk coming to UNM given the shaky start Weir has had during his first two years. Attendance in The Pit is at an all-time low, budgets are smaller than in years past, sports within the scandal-ridden athletic department have been cut to save money and fans are apparently growing tired of watching the men’s basketball team flounder around the .500 mark for the last five seasons.

With Snow as its head coach for the last five years, Highlands became one of the feel-good stories in NCAA Division II. The Cowboys are coming off their best season ever. Snow led NMHU to its conference tournament championship and a berth in the national tournament while the Lobos wound up with a losing record.

“In a way every move is a risk,” Snow said. “For me, personally, I never really thought about the downside. It was more of I have an opportunity to come here and help impact a high-level Division I program. I have an opportunity to work for a coach who I believe in his vision and what he’s doing for the program and the university. … When you put all that together, the risk is there, but it’s not something I would ever really focus on.”