Audit of UNM Athletics Program shows shocking use of school funds

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A state audit describes the University of New Mexico’s Athletic Department as a place where public employees were spending your money with no regard for it.

The report from New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller runs almost 60 pages, detailing a broken system of checks and balances during Paul Krebs reign as UNM’s Athletic Director.

Amidst allegations of financial mismanagement, Krebs announced his retirement in June. His replacement, new Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez, was not on the job when the department’s financial problems occurred. However, Nuñez is now in charge of cleaning it up.

“We want to own this, we want to say, ‘Okay, this is something that… unfortunately… that’s here in front of us and we want to take the actions to make everything right,'” said Nuñez.

Here are some of the highlights of the audit:

  • The Athletic Department giving “donor perks” like charter flights and football season tickets to 23 people who never actually donated money to the school.
  • The Scotland golf trip Larry Barker exposed where family, staffers and local businessmen got a free ride, costing UNM $64,949.
  • Hundreds of questionable or poorly documented credit card purchases and cash advances totaling almost $200,000.
  • Filling in luxury suites at the Pit by giving away suites at a cost of more than $200,000 — revenue that was supposed to pay off leftover debt from the arena’s 2009 renovation.
  • Overpaying football coach Bob Davie by $1,100. (The audit notes that Coach Davie noticed the overpayment and returned the money.)
  • Accidentally overpaying now-former basketball coach Craig Neal $144,000 over the course of a year, until the school caught it and made Neal repay the money.
  • Steering donations meant specifically for the UNM Ski Team over to other sports.

READ: NM State Auditor’s Full Report on UNM Athletics

The individual issues are all part of a huge financial mess of comingled finances. According to the State Auditor’s Office, UNM’s Athletic Department was mixing public funds with “Lobo Club” donations, then paying for perks that public money cannot be used to pay for.

“In many ways it is unfortunate. The good news is they are working on it, but it speaks to a broader question. There was actually no one in charge of this in the first place,” said State Auditor Tim Keller.

Newly installed UNM Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez now has the job of not only bringing fans back to UNM sports, but also restoring public confidence in the program.

“We want to be as transparent as we can be and I want our fans to know that they’re gonna have that trust in us, that we’re going to do things for the best interest of (fans) as well as our student-athletes,” said Nuñez.

UNM says it’s now trying to revamp the Athletic Department to include more financial oversight. Nuñez wants to bring in a Chief Financial Officer for his department. That position has been vacant for more than a year, something the University revealed during a July press conference about $432,000 in uncollected skybox revenues.

The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is also investigating all of the UNM Athletic Department’s financial dealings to see if any crimes were committed.

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