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New Mexico transfer JaQuan Lyle to miss 2018-19 season

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New Mexico announced that former five-star prospect and prized transfer JaQuan Lyle ruptured his achilles and will miss the entire 2018-19 season.

Lyle sat out last season in Albuquerque after transferring into the program from Ohio State, where he averaged 11.3 points in two seasons for the Buckeyes. The 6-foot-5 guard was expected to play a major role for a team that had an outside shot of getting to the NCAA tournament.

“JaQuan has meant so much to our program in the short time he has been here. Unfortunately this injury postpones his return to playing the game he loves,” headcoach Paul Weir said in a statement. “But his spirits have already turned incredibly positive and we look forward to supporting him in every way possible.”

“I am going into this process trying to get 1 percent better every day, both physically and mentally, to be ready to compete next season,” Lyle said. “I am so thankful to everyone for their thoughts and considerations.”

The recovery is expected to take around six months.

New Mexico adds talented transfer guard from Towson

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New Mexico landed one of the better available transfer guards on the market as Towson’s Zane Martin pledged to the Lobos on Friday.

The 6-foot-4 Martin was a second-team All-CAA selection last season for the Tigers as he blossomed into a big-time scorer as a sophomore. Putting up 19.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, Martin shot 45 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three-point range.

Martin will have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer regulations as he has two more seasons left of eligibility after his redshirt year.

This is a quality grab for the Lobos as Martin has a chance to develop into a solid rotation player and potential starter. Martin put in the work to go from role player to all-conference selection in one season, so it’ll be interesting to see how much his game develops during his redshirt season.

New Mexico’s Chris McNeal transferring

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Chris McNeal is heading to his fourth school in four years.

The New Mexico guard has asked for and received his release from the school to transfer, the Lobos announced Thursday.

“Chris has truly been a great person to have in our program,” head coach Paul Weir said in a statement. “We wish him nothing but the best in his future.”

McNeal began his career in 2015 at Western Kentucky, where he played one season and set the freshman assist record, before heading to Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, Ia., becoming a junior-college All-American on his way to New Mexico.

In his one season with the Lobos, McNeal started 19 games and averaged 9.5 points per game.He shot 37.2 percent from the floor and 31.5 percent from 3-point range. He had three games of at least 20 points, including 29 against Tennessee Tech in which he connected on 7 of 11 3-pointers.

New Mexico went 19-15 and finished third in the Mountain West.

McNeal will have one year remaining of eligibility and also has a redshirt year still available to him after his stop at Indian Hills.

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.

New Mexico reportedly overpaid Craig Neal by $150,000

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Craig Neal was relieved of his head coaching duties following this past season.

The university will owe him $1 million as part of a buyout. That sum was nearly exactly how much money he made in his first season at the helm of the program. During the 2013-14 season, Neal made a little more than $900,000. Although, according to Daniel Libit of NMFishBowl.com, he was mistakenly paid an extra $150,000, an error the school did not notice for a year.

On Thursday, confronted with these findings, a UNM spokesperson acknowledged the bungle while declining to explain how it all came to happen.

“There was an unintentional overpayment to Craig Neal, which was repaid in full some time ago through payroll deduction,” UNM’s Steve Carr told NMFishbowl.com in an email.

You might think this kind of payroll snafu would serve as a giant wakeup call for an athletic department in need of every penny. But, sure enough, almost the exact same thing happened recently with UNM’s head baseball coach.

The sum was paid back in Neal’s second season.

This story, published last week with pay stubs, only fuels the current criticism that department faces, especially when you consider that this was not an isolated incident.

Earlier on Monday, athletic director Paul Krebs announced he would retire at the end of the month. Two state investigations are looking into public money he used on golfing trips.

In seven of the past nine years, the department has failed to reach budget.

In four seasons with the Lobos, Neal compiled a 76-52 (42-30 Mountian West) record, failing to reach the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons.

New Mexico AD stepping down amid spending scrutiny

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — University of New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs, who has faced intense criticism for spending public money on a 2015 golf trip to Scotland that included athletics officials and private donors, abruptly announced Friday that he is stepping down.

In a letter to acting school President Chaouki Abdallah, Krebs requested approval for retirement and said he wanted to step down for a while. “However, I believe my retirement at this time is in my best interest and the University’s,” Krebs wrote without directly mentioning the spending controversy.

His last day will be June 30.

The move follows weeks of criticism and the announcement of two state investigations into the trip that has drawn scrutiny from New Mexico fans, elected officials and administrators.

State Auditor Tim Keller said late Thursday that he has designated the university for a special audit and that it was important to get to the bottom of questions raised about expenses, compensation and perks for donors and senior staff in the athletic department.

Keller sent a letter to the university’s leadership informing them of the expanded inquiry and requesting access to documents and staff.

Last week, state Attorney General Hector Balderas announced his office was launching a formal inquiry into the spending on the Scotland trip. Balderas said officials who leave office “can still face legal consequences for actions they took while in office.”

University officials have said they will cooperate with state authorities.

Records show the golf trip cost about $39,000 for Krebs, former men’s basketball coach Craig Neal and Lobo Club executive director Kole McKamey. But the university did not reveal what it paid for the private donors to attend the trip and initially recorded the trip as a basketball tournament in Ireland.

Abdallah told an Albuquerque television station that Krebs recently came to him and acknowledged the university picked up the tab for the boosters. He described it as a serious omission.

In a statement Friday, Abdallah thanked Krebs for his “outstanding leadership” as athletic director. “His tenure will go down as the most productive and successful in school history,” Abdallah said. “Paul has tried to retire several times over the last year, and now I finally have reluctantly agreed to accept his retirement.”

During Krebs’ tenure, the Lobos have won 57 Mountain West titles and seven other titles in different conferences. The 34 championships won over four years from 2011-12 to 2014-15 make up the best title stretch in school history.

He also is credited with helping turn around a lackluster football program with the hiring of former Norte Dame head coach Bob Davie. New Mexico posted only its second bowl victory in a half-century, topping Texas-San Antonio 23-20 in the New Mexico Bowl in December.

Still, the Lobos men’s basketball team, a mainstay in a state where hoops reign supreme, never made it to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 under Krebs’ leadership and he faced criticism for the last two years after the team failed even to make the tournament.

Krebs, who became the athletic director in 2006, also faced heat for various coaching hires. Former head football coach Mike Locksley, for example, was fired after going 2-26 and after a number of off-the-field problems that included a 10-day suspension following a fight with an assistant coach.

His abrupt firing of popular women’s head basketball coach Yvonne Sanchez last year also drew criticism from some Latino activists who charged Krebs wasn’t doing enough to hire and promote Hispanics at the largest university in the nation’s most Hispanic state.

In addition, the athletic department has seen budget deficits in seven of the last nine years.