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Stevens: Krebs as Nero

Stevens: Krebs as Nero

In women’s basketball, Krebs toyed with the idea of not renewing the contract of Yvonne Sanchez, but waited too long and allowed Sanchez’s Lobos to feast on the dogs of the Mountain West.

BY RICHARD STEVENS

You can’t help but wonder if Lobo Athletic Director Paul Krebs asked for a fiddle in his recent contract renewal as the top jock at the UNM athletic department.

It’s not that the Kingdom of Krebs is burning and he needs a distraction. But there is some crumbling going on over at the South Campus, and nobody – including King Krebs – seems to care much.

Richard StevensA recent defection from Krebs’ Kingdom was asked what he thought of his former leader and responded: Krebs is an arrogant, pompous (delete) who is running that department into the ground while surrounding himself with minions willing to drink his Kool-Aid.

It’s tough to argue with that assessment – well, except for the running the department into the ground. The pompous Krebs has done good work in facilities building and leaning on the academic success center.

But facilities and grades probably would have landed at the feet of any AD. There are other ways to judge an athletics director, and Krebs is sliding down a slippery slope as he heads into the twilight years of his Lobo leadership.

Krebs probably shouldn’t have survived the Mike Locksley fiasco. He scurried behind closed doors on the main campus and gathered the top brass at UNM to help him come up with damage control to spin at the local, cowardly media. Krebs even brought in a national PR specialist to help with the spin.

He survived.

It was not expected that Krebs would seek out a contract extension. It’s a good time to get out of Dodge, but Krebs – like a good carpetbagger – surely wants to fade into the Midwest with a few more New Mexico bucks in his bank. Smart man.

Krebs also has some unfinished business in legacy building.

At most universities, you judge an AD by football and/or men’s basketball. At UNM, you can toss in women’s basketball because of the potential of that fading program. You also toss in The Pit – Albuquerque’s main, albeit fading, claim to national sports fame.

Krebs does not look good in any of these areas. He went from Locksley to Bob Davie in football, and the change in the won-lost column has been minor. So far, Krebs’ chief distinction in this sport is as the guy who ran off Rocky Long.

The men’s basketball program is not yet stable. Coach Craig Neal’s team in 2014-15 was almost dysfunctional and embarked on one of the longest losing skids in Lobo history. The team played with about as much chemistry as a pick-up game in Johnson Gym. In his first season (2013-14), Neal took a Sweet 16 team and lost to Stanford in the first round. His Lobos did not even make the postseason in 2014-15.

In women’s basketball, Krebs toyed with the idea of not renewing the contract of Yvonne Sanchez but waited too long and allowed Sanchez’s Lobos to feast on the dogs of the Mountain West – one of the worse basketball conferences in the nation. It’s not that Sanchez is a bad coach.

It’s more that this program has gigantic potential that is lost with Sanchez at the helm. This potential might be a mute point as the once vibrant Pit is dying as Krebs sits on his hands and fails to make bold and necessary decisions. The lost potential of this women’s program might be one of Krebs’ bigger failures.

Or maybe it’s his mishandling of The Pit.

The redesigned Pit has not exactly charmed the NCAA as a postseason venue. Possibly the NCAA wants a PA system that people can hear. The redesigned Pit also took the worst seats in the place (mezzanine) and turned them into suites. The fat cats are being asked to pay too much money for bad seats, a bad team, a bad schedule, and then they are gouged by ridiculous concession prices at that lofty level.

There also is potential embarrassment in selling naming rights to the WisePies pizza chain. If WisePies were smart, it would make its second payment to UNM, then find a way to back out of this arrangement before the big checks must be written.

WisePies already has gotten its bang from its bucks, just as the Lobos also have already gotten their bang for their bucks out of Krebs.

The department needs new energy and new leadership – integrity and courage would be nice additions, too.

Richard Stevens is a former sports writer for The Albuquerque Tribune. More recently he was an insider at the Lobo athletic department. Reach him at rstev50@gmail.com

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Sara MacNeil is an editorial intern at ABQ Free Press Weekly.

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