New Mexico’s Craig ‘Noodles’ Neal now the highest-paid Mountain West coach


New Mexico and head coach Craig “Noodles” Neal have reached an agreement on a contract extension that will keep him with the Lobos through 2020, the school announced on Monday.

Neal’s deal will be worth $5.7 million over the next six years, or $950,000 annually, making him the highest paid coach in the Mountain West.

Last season was the first for Neal as head coach of the Lobos as he led the team to a 27-7 record, a Mountain West tournament title and a trip to the NCAA tournament. He spent six seasons as an assistant under Steve Alford, who left to take the head coaching position at UCLA.

“I am very excited about this commitment made by UNM President Dr. Robert Frank, VP for Athletics Paul Krebs, the board of regents and the university,” Neal said in a release. “This means a lot to me and our program. I’ve received tremendous support from our administration, university and fans in my first year as head coach. It all reaffirmed to me that the University of New Mexico is where I want to spend my career. I can’t wait to continue leading this outstanding program and representing our university, our community and our state.”

Neal will lose Kendall Williams, Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow this season, but they return Cullen Neal, Craig’s son, as well as Hugh Greenwood.