In his 10 years leading the University of New Mexico’s athletic department, Paul Krebs has shown himself to be a bully and a shameless survivalist who will do anything in his power to escape trouble when controversy hits.
He should step down as athletic director, in light of his latest act of treason.
He is just like President Donald Trump, targeting talented dissenter reporters who have written truthful – and unflattering – stories about him and the UNM athletics department.
The latest: NMFishBowl.com chieftain Daniel Libit has written a number of critical stories in recent weeks that have exposed the underbelly of UNM athletics, much to Krebs’ displeasure.
Libit has uprooted cherry and silver’s dirty secrets, including the publishing of a story in which student-athletes dished candidly on coaches in exit interviews.
Among other things, the exit interviews revealed disparate treatment and double standards of female athletes at UNM to complaints about head football coach Bob Davie – another Krebs’ hire – being an un-relatable fraud.
The report, generated from documents obtained under New Mexico sunshine laws, predictably sent the thin-skinned, image-conscious Krebs into a tiff. He met with staff and laid down an edict, culled from a copy of minutes of an Athletic Department Leadership Team meeting, according to NMFishBowl.com.
Krebs had plans to meet with the school’s Athletic Council to, “discuss the aggressive nature in which one reporter, Daniel Libit, requests information.”
Krebs also met with UNM’s attorneys; the school’s chief marketing officer, Cinnamon Blair; and Deputy Athletics Director Brad Hutchins to discuss the recent release of student-athlete exit interview notes to NMFishbowl.com.
Furthermore, Krebs issued a dictate that no Athletic Department employee is permitted to speak to this reporter, and that all communications must go through Lobo spokesman Frank Mercogliano.
“There is a leak in the athletic department that is providing information to the media,” Krebs said, according to the minutes, which were obtained by NMFishbowl.com.
This isn’t the first time Krebs or his staff has lamented leaks in the athletics department. The phrase was also invoked during the Mike Locksley debacle when I was sports editor at the Daily Lobo in 2009.
Locksley was the former head football coach whose tenure at UNM was pockmarked by repeated off-the-field incidents – the two biggest being the beatdown of assistant coach J.B. Gerald and a sexual harassment lawsuit in which an administrative assistant accused him of wanting to get rid of her to hire younger attractive women to entice recruits.
Krebs mishandled the internal investigation into the physical confrontation between Locksley and Gerald. He initially issued his hire, Locksley, a verbal reprimand.
The outcry was swift; a subsequent toothless investigation by UNM’s HR department that didn’t undermine Krebs was undertaken. And Krebs, getting a mulligan at a second news conference, reversed course and settled on a 10-day unpaid suspension for “Iron Mike” – a $29,000 haircut for the rookie head coach.
The Albuquerque Journal published a story in the midst of the fallout after the announcement of Locksley’s suspension that showed Krebs concerned about his own skin.
In an email to a North Carolina media consulting firm tapped to help UNM manage the unfolding drama, Krebs asked for last-minute advice, then offered this barb about his own hire: “I feel like he may take me down with him.”
If this is what Krebs was willing to say about someone he hired and gushed about at an introductory news conference, it’s of little surprise he has resorted to such heavy-handed tactics to attempt to silence Libit.
This is nothing new for Krebs. He has fostered a culture of intimidation for years and tried to implement the same strategy against me while I was reporting on Locksley’s foibles.
That is why I was so incensed when I read Libit’s story. It rang true.
While I was sports editor at UNM, former KOB investigative reporter Jeremy Jojola contacted me after he obtained emails between Krebs and an associate athletic director in which they disparaged my reporting as “subjective” and suggested I would go out of my way to “portray us in a negative light.”
Krebs is notorious for these manufactured allegations, intended to detract from the true issues faced by the department he oversees. That’s the mark of a true coward, someone who instead of accepting responsibility for his missteps uses smoke grenades to save his own neck.
I’m convinced Krebs was the driving force in souring my relationship with Locksley. I was no Locksley apologist. I criticized him often in print. One time I referred to him and his team as “GoldiLocksley and the Bad News Bears.”
But for a while we seemed to come to an understanding. I remember at one luncheon he downplayed the tension between us, saying he thought I was a young reporter who was just doing his job.
Seeing Krebs’ recent actions – and judging off his past actions – I don’t doubt he convinced Locksley I was a son-of-a-bitch reporter who was just out for blood and to demonize him.
Locksley and I had a few good conversations over the phone. I have to say I was impressed with his intellect, his abilities as an orator and the progress he represented at New Mexico, becoming the university’s first African American head football coach.
That said, he just had too many self-inflicted wounds early on and couldn’t overcome a 2-26 record, punctuated by a loss to lower-division Sam Houston State, before Krebs finally pulled the plug on what amounted to a failed experiment.
But I remember what Locksley said in an exit interview with KRQE’s Van Tate: “If I was the boss, I would have fired me.”
He followed that up with this gem about the very large buyout clause owed to him by the university: “I’d trade in any amount of that money to regain that character that I lost coming here.”
Locksley went on to land on his feet, becoming a coordinator at Maryland, and later, interim head coach.
He recently landed as co-offensive coordinator for Alabama after serving in a little-paid offensive analyst role, showing he has the resolve to scratch out a living.
That’s more than Krebs can say. He has shown he’s willing to scratch out whoever he has to – friends or foes – in order to maintain his standing atop Lobo athletics.
Here’s to hoping Libit takes him down. Tyrants must be stopped.