clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Will Davie storm quiet?

Lobos football coach appeals 30-day suspension amid troubling allegations

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Spring workouts opened like a tumbleweed in the wind as a storm of uncertainty and controversy swirls about the University of New Mexico football program.

But exactly how much damage it will leave as it passes remains unclear after the results of multiple internal investigations were made public. Those reports detail disturbing allegations of misconduct by Head Coach Bob Davie.

Based on those findings, Davie was suspended 30 days without pay by UNM Interim President Chaouki Abdallah announced on Feb. 8 in a statement posted on UNM's website.

”At the University of New Mexico, our students are our first priority,” Abdallah said in his statement. “This includes their academic success, support for their activities outside of the classroom and, of course, their personal well-being. … Providing a culture that helps students, faculty and staff feel safe on our campus and protects from bullying and intimidation is my top priority.”

The following day, Feb. 9, Davie released his own statement which was posted on various media outlets, stating that he is appealing the suspension to the UNM Board of Regents.

“Over the past nine months the University has conducted three investigations involving the football program dating back to 2012,” his statement read. “None of these three investigations have determined I violated any University policy.”

Among the most stunning allegations from the reports by UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity and the Chicago law firm Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose Ltd., were charges of physical abuse against players and racial slurs used against them. Also, those reports looked at allegations of sexual assault cover-ups of incidents involving football players and treatment of injured players cleared by medical staff.

Davie in his statement denied many of the most serious allegations leveled against him and his program. He also noted in his statement: “I fully cooperated in every respect and met multiple times with the investigators, but was never asked to meet with or provide information”’ to a Chicago-based law firm conducting one of the probes. Davie further noted in his release that the Hogan Report reads: "Given the lack of specific evidence that he or his staff engaged in criminal obstruction or retaliation with respect to these three incidences, we also determined it was not necessary to interview Coach Davie or conduct a further review of additional police, OEO and medical records."

Despite his appeal, moving forward from the suspension amid the release of the reports would appear to be an awkward endeavor at best.

The announcement of the suspension came one day after National Signing Day. The Lobos on Wednesday signed 10 more players to bring their 2018 recruiting haul to 22 players so far. The timing of the suspension was peculiar considering the reports’ results were dated Jan. 16 and Jan. 22. Had they been released sooner, more immediate football fallout could have occurred.

However, the suspension of Davie made national headlines, in part because of Davie’s high profile in the sport. Davie is a former ESPN college football analyst and the former head coach of Notre Dame, one of the premier programs in the country. The negative spotlight on UNM as a result of the suspension of Davie isn’t a good look, no matter the outcome of his appeal.

Here’s a sampling of some of the unflattering headlines across the country this past week:

-- “Former Notre Dame coach suspended after alleged rape cover ups” - New York Post

-- “Misconduct Reports at New Mexico Put Bob Davie in Bad Light” - SI.com

-- New Mexico football coach Bob Davie appeals suspension over slur allegations - Chicago Sun Times

You get the picture -- and it’s not pretty. Davie and the school’s reputation are taking a beating. The season is many months away but the effects likely will linger.

The concern now is the long term ripples of this suspension and whether it will permanently tarnish Davie’s accomplishments and keep future recruits away.

Davie has been praised for his turnaround of UNM’s football program since taking over in 2011. The program had struggled before his arrival, losing 35 of its final 38 games under previous coach Mike Locksley.

Davie, 63, is 30-45 in six seasons as the Lobos’ head coach, with two bowl appearances.

Spring workouts began Friday and it was business as usual, for now.

INVESTIGATION REVIEW

Last fall, UNM engaged a retired federal judge to perform an initial review of concerns raised by a UNM student. The results, Abdallah said, led to hiring law firm Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose, Ltd. to conduct a formal investigation. The investigation was not limited to the Athletics Department, but there was a specific focus on that department and its football program, Abdallah’s statement read. Concurrently, UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) was working on a separate investigation into allegations that implicated civil rights concerns within Athletics.

”I received reports from each investigation. Both identified blind-spots as well as instances where UNM policies have been violated and outdated practices persist regarding University reporting processes,” Abdallah said.

He added: “Behavior that violates our policies will not be tolerated. We will intensify our efforts to educate our campus community and change the culture of accountability within the University.”A slew of changes that involve Athletics were to be implemented from the reports of the three investigations. Among them were:

-- A 30-day unpaid suspension for Davie, as well as requiring specific in-person training and acknowledgement of his obligation to comply with University policies.-- Mandatory in-person Title IX training for the Athletics Department.-- Mandatory in-person cultural sensitivity training for the Athletics Department.-- One-on-one training within the Athletics Department, by a national firm to educate student athletes and staff members about proper reporting lines. The firm will also do an assessment, review policies and procedures and analyze any gaps they might find.-- The Athletics Department should ensure that all staff, including senior leadership and athletes, understands civil rights reporting procedures.

-- The University’s senior officials should provide greater leadership and set a stronger tone of commitment to compliance with Title IX.-- The University should provide seminars as well as stronger and more explicit protections for “whistleblowers,” including student and employees who may be complainants or witnesses in investigations.-- In conjunction with University Counsel, the Athletic Department should conduct a review of its policies, procedures and practices relating to student injuries and take steps as necessary to ensure compliance.-- The University should provide greater oversight of the Athletics Department on an annual basis with respect to their handling of incidents of alleged misconduct by student athletes.-- Specific steps to encourage misconduct to be reported to the University and/or the police.-- Discipline for failure of employees to report misconduct.-- Greater transparency in the operation of the athletic programs, including ensuring that all practices are open to University officials.-- Protocols for who should be present at any discussion with players about misconduct.