UNM approved alcohol-fueled student tailgate

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A tailgate party hosted by University of New Mexico is raising some concern after a recent video captured plenty of students involved in heavy drinking and partying all on the university’s watch.

The tailgate party was thrown specifically for students before the Lobo football team’s home opener at University Stadium last Saturday. Students were allowed by the university to bring their own booze and throw a huge party.

The party drew about 5,000 students and video of it is now causing the UNM Athletic Department to make some changes.

For some, the video is hard to believe given the location of where it was being recorded. It shows clips of UNM students drinking from “beer bongs,” doing lines of shots off of skis, playing beer pong and filling an inflatable kiddie-pool full of booze.

All of it happened right in the Lobos Athletic Department’s backyard and the university says it knows all about it.

“It is run by a bunch of different groups but we’re the ones that help put it on,” said Frank Mercogliano.

An assistant athletic director for the UNM Athletic Department, Mercogliano is talking about the big tailgate party the university threw for students for about three hours Saturday afternoon just outside of University Stadium before the Lobos began their football season.

The student focused tailgating event called “United We Return,” happened on the newer grassy lawn between the soccer field, the track and University Stadium.

Anyone who had a ticket to the game could get in to the student tailgate for free. UNM then allowed the crowd, which was mostly students, to bring their own booze. The Athletic Department says security guards and sheriffs deputies checked ID cards at the door and gave wristbands to students over 21. They say staff tried to monitor and make sure the under 21 crowd wasn’t drinking.

“It allows us to be able to monitor it and to be able to present it in a safe environment because if we don’t present it here, the worry is, is that they’ll go somewhere else and do it,” Mercogliano said.

All of it was captured on a video and posted on to YouTube Thursday by a Lobo student-group called “United We Rage.” The group started more than a year ago with a focus on getting more students to sporting events.

But while UNM allowed the event to happen, they say the video shows behavior they were not expecting.

“It really didn’t represent what the student tailgate is,” said Mercogliano.

UNM made the student group pull the video on Thursday. But the content is raising eyebrows with the Dean of Students.

“Oh gosh, it’s like a rave,” said Tomas Aguirre, UNM’s Dean of Students.

UNM’s Athletic Department says it will now clamping down on the rowdy crowd, but they’ll still let the student parties happen before the rest of this season’s football games. The Dean of Students says he’ll be keeping an eye on it too.

“It’s definitely very concerning, you know, as Dean of Students, we’re obviously very concerned about our students’ safety and well being,” Aguirre said.

The school is throwing another free party Saturday before the Arizona State game. UNM says it has requested more security, including deputies in plain clothes to make sure students under 21 aren’t getting their hands on alcohol and to make sure students aren’t binge drinking. They say more water and food will also be available and more staff will be patrolling the party area.

UNM says it doesn’t pay the promoter to put on the party, but rather that the company is a “corporate partner” with “Lobo Sports Properties,” the multimedia rights holder and sports marketing arm for athletics at the University of New Mexico. As for the drinks, it’s bring your own booze for the students, so there’s no bar or place to buy alcohol.

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